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Edmund Kirke's Works. 

All unifomn with this volume, beautifully bound in 
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I. Among the Pines. 

II. My Southern Friends. 

III. Down in Tennessee. 

IV. Adrift in Dixie. 

V. Among the Guerillas. (In press.) 

VI. On the Border. (In press.) 

' Edmund Kirke is a graphic writer. His pages do not furnish fiction, 

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Adrift in Dixie; 

A Yankee Officer among the Rebels. 


k 5 








ROltOa 3370b 


Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by 


In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts. 

" a OS 1 O N f 
Geo. C. Rand & Avery, Stereotypers and Printers. 




Introduction 9 

A Prisoner 41 

Escape 63 

Inland Navigation 107 

Overland Travel 149 



please do not write in tnis 
book or turn down the pags* 


As this volume is given to the public solely at 
the suggestion of the writer of this, it may be 
proper that he should prefix to it' a few words by 
way of introduction. 

The author is Henry L. Estabrooks, a young 
gentleman of Dorchester, Mass., who, throughout 
the war, was a lieutenant in the Twenty-sixth Regi- 
ment of Massachusetts infantry, and, being taken 
prisoner at the battle of Berryville, passed over for- 
ty days in wandering through the Rebel country. 
He was at first sent to the Libby Prison, but, in a 
short time, was conveyed from there to the railway 
for removal to the Far South. On the route, he 
contrived to escape from the cars, and after a jour- 
ney of thirty days, performed on foot and mostly 
at night, over guarded roads and along a danger- 
ous river, managed to get to the Union lines. 

1 (J INTR 01) UCTION. 

General Grant gave him at once a furlough ; 
and, going home, he wrote out, while its every in- 
cident was fresh in his memory, the following nar- 
rative of his most remarkable journey. 

The narrative was not intended for publication, 
and for long was seen only by the partial friends 
who gather under the " old roof-tree ; " but, after 
being read and re-read around the family fireside, 
it crept out into the colder outside air, and, one 
wintry morning, galloped across several miles of 
hilly country, and pulled up at my doorway. 

I took it in, and gave it a warm place by the 
winter fire. I could not do otherwise : for a pair 
of bright eyes, rosy cheeks, and smiling lips, came 
with it, and said to me (the lips, I mean), "It is 
true, Mr. Kirke ; and you will be interested in it ; 
for it tells how faithful and kind the Southern ne- 
groes were to one who had no claim on them other 
than being a Northern man and a Union soldier." 

I sat down to the manuscript, and, before rising, 
had read it. through from end to end. It not only 
interested, it delighted me ; for it gave me my first 


vivid idea of the present disposition and feelings 
of the Southern negroes. The newspapers had 
said in a general way that they were loyal ; that 
they had performed important services to our ar- 
mies, often warning them of danger, and guiding 
them to victory : but this narrative, in a series of 
graphic pictures evidently drawn from life, showed 
how, at imminent risk, they had harbored and be- 
friended our escaping soldiers, given them of their 
meagre food and their scanty clothing, and led 
them, in the cold storm and the starless midnight, 
through pathless woods and trackless swamps, 
safely to the lines of our armies. 

" This narrative should be published," I said to 
the rosy-cheeked messenger ; " for it tells what the 
North does not as yet fully realize, — the great fact 
that in the very heart of the South are four mil- 
lions of people, — of strong, able-bodied, true-heart- 
ed people, — whose loyalty led them, while the heel 
of the " chivalry " was on their necks, and a halter 
was dangling before their eyes, to give their last 
crust, and their only suit of Sunday homespun, to 


the fleeing fugitive, simply because he wore the 
livery and fought the battles of the- Union." 

" Do with it as you like," said the rosy-cheeked 
messenger. " We owe my brother's life to the ne- 
groes ; and you can publish his journal, if you 
think it will do them any good." 

That same evening a gentleman came to my 
house, who, once a week, reminds an intelligent 
congregation that " God hath made of one blood 
all nations that dwell on the face of the earth ; " 
and I mentioned to him the narrative, and my 
thought of giving it to the public. " Don't do it," 
he said very decidedly : " we have heard enough 
about the negro." 

il Enough of him," I answered, " as a slave, but 
scarcely any thing of him while looking and wait- 
ing for freedom. If his patience and fortitude, 
and fidelity to the Union during the war, are fully 
shown, it may help to secure him his full rights 
as a freeman." 

" But you wouldn't give him all the rights of a 


citizen ? You certainly know he is not fit for suf- 

"Why not fit for suffrage?" 

" Because of his ignorance. Not one in twenty 
of the negroes can read or write." 

" Neither can one in four of the voters in our 
Northern cities. If reading and writing were 
necessary qualifications to citizenship, Alexander 
the Great, and probably ten of the twelve apostles, 
would have been denied a country. My notion is, 
that there is an education which is better than 
that had from books, — that which a man gets in 
the school of hard work and adversity. The ne- 
groes have that sort of education." 

" But they won't work for wages : they'll only 
labor on compulsion. We hear that by every 
mail from the §outh." 

" That doesn't prove it true ; but, if it be true, it 
shows only that the negro knows his late master, 
and feafs to trust him till the end of harvest. He 
fears, that, after getting his work, he will cheat him 
of his wages. Neither you nor I will work if un- 


certain of our pay. A dozen Southern planters 
have told me, since the war ; that the negro will 
labor willingly if paid every Saturday." 

" Well, well ! The nigger is black. We must 
have a white country ; and we can't have it if we 
let him vote, and hold office." 

" We can't have it anyway. Providence never 
meant we should have it : if it had, it would not 
have allowed the slave-trade to empty upon us so 
much of Africa." 

Much more was said ; but this is what rested on 
my mind, and decided me to give this little volume 
to a publisher; for it fully overturns the positions 
of my clerical friend, — that the negro is black, ig- 
norant, and unwilling to work : and these " facts " 
are, I believe, the staple arguments of the oppo- 
nents of negro suffrage. 

The narrative proves that the negro will work ; 
for the people in this book — all of them — worked 
faithfully and willingly in the N midst of w£r, when 
nearly every white man was in the Rebel armies, 


and too far away to employ either moral suasion or 
compulsion upon their slaves. 

It proves, too, that the negro is not black. 
Color, like beauty, is only skin-deep ; and the men 
who helped this young officer to his life and free- 
dom showed that they had souls of the very 
whitest complexion. 

It proves also that he is not ignorant. These 
men knew their country ; recognized and succored 
one of its friends ; chided him when he spoke 
harshly of his enemies ; and recognized their de- 
pendence on God by kneeling on the rocky bank 
of the Dan, and asking him to guide the tired fugi- 
tive safely along its dangerous current. If such 
knowledge is not the highest kind of knowledge, 
then every pulpit in this broad country tells a 
weekly falsehood. 

But, after all, many of my readers will persist 
in believing that the Southern negro is black, 
ignorant, and unwilling to work. It may be, that, 
using words in the usual way, this is true : but if 
it be true of the negro, it is equally true of the 


u chivalry ; " and, by the chivalry, I do not mean 
the masses of the South, but those fifty thousand 
or more aristocrats who have ground the negro 
to the earth, and brought upon the country a war 
without a parallel in history, solely to make end- 
less the system which was crushing out of the 
Southern working-man — white as well as black — 
nearly every vestige of manhood. 

I insist that the chivalry are black, ignorant, and 
unwilling to work ; and, if those things disqualify 
the negroes for citizenship in a white republic, 
they equally disqualify the " chivalry." 

They are unwilling to work. They have always 
wrung their bread from the bloody sweat of other 
men ; always been barren trees, drawing its rich 
juices from the soil, and giving out in return 
no blossoms and no fruit. " My Father worketh 
hitherto, and I work," was said by Him who came 
on earth to show us the highest type of manhood ; 
but these men have called that a disgrace which 
he esteemed an honor, branded that as shame 
which he made the badge of the highest nobility. 


They are ignorant; ignorant of the first rudi- 
ments of nineteenth-century knowledge, that " all 
men are created equal (before the law), and en- 
dowed by the Creator with certain inalienable 
rights ; " and they are ignorant, too, of that funda- 
mental principle of political economy, — -that pov- 
erty and degradation in one class entail poverty 
and degradation upon all other classes in a nation. 

And they are black, and black because they 
have withheld his rights from the negro. In his 
earliest infancy, the scion of the chivalry has 
learned that he could domineer, unchecked, over 
small colored humanity ; and, when old enough to 
go to the neighboring village-school, he has seen 
ever at his heels an image of God, cut in ebony, 
which grinned when he grinned, and was struck 
with lightning whenever he thundered forth the 
big words so common to Young America North and 
South. And, when coming up to manhood, he has 
seen all of the world with which he was acquainted 
— his father's black slaves, and his equally obsequi- 
ous white vassals — making obeisance to him as if 


he werq of better clay than they. Is it strange, 
then, that he has grown up to think he is monarch 
of all he surveys, and that, at his frown, all creation 
should tremble ? Is it strange, with no check on 
his passions, no bridle on his will, that he should, 
as a man, be proud, passionate, treacherous, re- 
vengeful, overbearing, and greedy of power ? 

These are the traits of his class : of course I 
speak of the class ; for there are many exceptions. 
Everywhere there are men in whom God has im- 
planted so much of the principle of goodness, that 
it cannot be dwarfed by the most barren soil, or 
chilled by the most icy atmosphere ; and there are 
such men — many of them — among the " chivalry " 
of the South. But, as a class, they are all that I say. 
In all the traits I have named, they are the equals 
of Satan ; and in political cunning and dishonesty 
they outdo " the wild devil withal," and almost 
equal some of our Northern politicians. 

And is it to these men, who are born aristocrats, 
who have no one principle or feeling in harmony 
with republican institutions, who are black with a 


blackness which is ingrained, — has struck inwards, 
and dyed their very souls, — that we would commit 
again the government of the South, while we deny 
to the other black men, whose skins only are col- 
ored, the right to say at the ballot-box that they 
are men, and that white men, with white souls, 
shall rule over them ? 

Do we forget that a small bonfire was lit on 
Boston Common thirty years ago, whose ascending 
flames traced on the sky, as with the finger of God, 
the words, " Freedom for all men, black as well as 
white " ? 

It was only a small bonfire ; but it spread, — 
spread wider and wider, and waxed brighter and 
brighter, until it illuminated the whole North, and 
showed three millions of freemen their true inter- 
ests, and made them say at the polls, " Thus far 
shall slavery come, and no farther ; and here shall 
its dark waves be stayed." 

Intrenched behind the Constitution, which se- 
cured to each State the undisturbed control of its 
domestic concerns, we expected that the " chival- 


ry " would fold their arms, and gaze calmly on that 
advancing conflagration. But they did not. They 
were not like a Boston merchant I once knew, who, 
when told that his warehouse was in flames, coolly 
replied, " It can't be possible ; for I've the key in 
my pocket." They had the keys in their pockets, 
and the Constitution had double-locked the door : 
but they knew that fire is an element that does 
not always knock at doorways ; that it sometimes 
enters at windows, ancl sometimes kindles within 
the building itself. 

Already that Northern fire had run down into 
Maryland and Delaware ; already it had spanned 
the Ohio, and set Northern Kentucky ancl Western 
Virginia in a blaze ; already it had leaped the Mis- 
souri border, and lit there a bonfire to freedom that 
would never go out. If it came nearer, if it 
crossed the tobacco States, and lit up the dark at- 
mosphere of Cottondom, would not the Southern 
masses — white and black -7— see by it their true 
interests, as the Northern masses had done, and 
kindle a flame within the sacred edifice itself, that 


would topple it down, a blackened ruin, in a night ? 
They would. The " chivalry " knew that they 
would, and therein they saw their danger. 

How to stay the farther progress of that fire 
Southwards, was, therefore, the question. How 
could it be done? How does the traveller, who 
sees afar off on the prairie a mighty conflagration 
lighting the whole heavens, escape the impending 
flames ? Not by flight ; for foot of man or beast 
never yet outstripped that forked fire that jour- 
neys on the wings of the wind. No : the traveller 
does not flee. He gathers a few dead leaves, he 
splits a few dry fagots ; he heaps them together, 
and kindles a counter-fire ; and behind its flames he 
is safe. The sky may be hung with black, the 
earth may be darkened with ruin, the sun itself 
may seem stricken from the heavens ; but the trav- 
eller is safe. 

So it was like to have been with the " chivalry." 
They saw that small bonfire kindling thirty years 
ago on Boston Common ; they saw it spreading 
from one free State to another, and then lighting 



up the whole Northern and Eastern sky ; and they 
saw it at last leaping the border into their own do- 
minions ; and they did not run : for safety was not 
in flight ; it was, they thought, in a counter-fire. 
So they gathered a few dead leaves, split a few dry 
fagots, — they split the last fagot when they split 
the Charleston Convention, — they heaped them 
together, and touched a match to the pile : it 
was a lucifer match, smelling of brimstone, and 
bearing the brand of the Devil himself. They 
touched that match at Fort Sumter, and the flames 
have covered the continent. The sky is hung 
with black ; the earth is darkened with ruin ; the 
sun itself seems stricken from the heavens ; and 
five hundred thousand human beings have perished 
in the flames : but now, thanks to the two hundred 
thousand black men who builded a fire in their 
rear, the " chivalry " are encircled with the flames 
their own hands enkindled. 

I say, thanks to the two hundred thousand black 
men ; for, deny it as we may, our black soldiers 


were the feather which broke the back of the Re- 

And now, with hypocritical hearts and cringing 
knees, and hands yet wet and dripping with our 
brave boys' blood, the chivalry stand amid all this 
death and desolation, seeking to recover by fraud 
the power they have lost by their crimes ; wanting 
to do with the ballot what they have failed to do 
with the fire ! 

Shall we let them do it ? Must there be another 
war, another funeral-pile builded of half a million 
lives, before the country learns that there is no faith 
nor honor nor honesty in these men; that they 
must be disfranchised, be forever denied the power 
they have so wickedly abused, and be made to 
give place to the honest working-men — black and 
white — who are to till the Southern fields, and be 
the real South of the Future ? 

I would not be misunderstood. I have no senti- 
mental love for the negro. I think him a man, 
and, giving him all the rights of a man, would let 
him work out his own salvation. I would do the 


same with the " chivalry." I would let them hold 

property, live in peace, and know the blessing of 

earning their bread by the sweat of their brows ; 

but I would not let them again guide Southern 

opinion, make laws to regulate Southern labor, 

or again control the legislation of the country. 

All this they will do, if we give them back the 

elective franchise, and do not, at the same time, 

put a ballot into the hand of every Southern 







ON the eighteenth of September, 1864, General 
Grant came into the Valley of the Shenandoah to 
communHate with our commander, General Sheridan. The 
same afternoon, the army received orders to break camp, 
and, at two o'clock on the following morning, marched 
out of its breastworks, and up the valley. Conjecture 
was busy about our destination; some thinking we were 
going out to fight, others that we were marching by the 
way of Berry ville and Snicker's Gap to the protection 
of Washington. 

Winchester, which the Rebel army occupied, was at our 
right; and Snicker's Gap, through which ran the road to 
Washington, on our left. Our company was in the 
advance, and, being nearest the cross - roads, saw the 



head of the column when it turned to the right. So we 
were about to measure strength with Early's legions ! 
Sober thoughts came to all; but not a man showed signs 
of fear : and we pressed on as rapidly as possible, keeping 
over the open fields to give the wagon-trains unobstructed 
use of the high-roads. We marched until near daybreak, 
passing continually scraps of fortifications, and now and 
then a complete line, stretching far off into the gray dark- 
ness ; and then halted to allow the sixth and eighth corps 
to take the advance. 

September nineteenth. — A little after sunris^we were 
again in motion, and pressing on at the dounle-quick 
towards Winchester. Far away were high hills, with 
little strips of yellow about then tops, denoting fortifica- 
tions; and, nearer by, a long wreath of white smoke was 
curling upward in the clear air. Towards this smoke we 
were hurrying. At last we reached a muddy stream 
running over rocks and sand. It was the Opequan Creek ; 
and there we saw our first wounded man, lying near the 
smoking ruins of a flouring - mill, which a body of our 
cavalry had destroyed the night before. 

Fording the stream, we soon came upon our wagon- 
trains and ambulances, packed in great squares on either 


side of the road. Two of our companies, acting as Sheri- 
dan's headquarters' guard, greeted us noisily as we went 
by ; and then we pressed on, passing a great many dead 
horses in all stages of decay, some of them poisoning the 
very air, and soon entered a narrow defile, our two brigades 
crowding along a road scarcely wide enough for one to march 
comfortably. At the entrance of this defile, we encountered 
about a hundred and fifty Rebel prisoners, some of them 
wounded, and, a little farther on, came upon a field-hospi- 
tal, with detached legs, arms, hands, feet, and every form 
of mangled humanity, scattered about on the green grass 
around it. It was not a pleasant sight to one every moment 
nearing its cause ; and, with compressed lips, we hurried 
sternly forward. 

Soon afterwards we reached the farther end of the pass, 
and, bearing off to the edge of a wood on the right, formed 
in the front line ; the other brigades of our division forming 
in our rear. We remained here nearly an hour, a fierce 
cannonade meanwhile going on directly at our left. During 
this hour, some of us took a little nap, others a little coffee ; 
but nearly all stood silently waiting, and thinking of the 
impending struggle. Meanwhile, Company I, of our regi- 
ment, had been sent to the front as skirmishers, with 


orders to move forward until they found something. We 
soon knew by the reports of their muskets that they had 
found it; and, an orderly riding up, we were ordered to 
move forward into the battle. 

Pressing on through the wood, we soon came to its outer 
edge, and saw dense masses of men, in brownish-gray, with 
glittering bayonets, and a multitude of blood-red, star-crossed 
battle-flags drawn up directly in our front. Here and there 
a battery was hurling fire and smoke; and away to the 
left, moving forward in unison with us, was a long line of 
blue, among which the Rebel shot and canister were bursting 
with fearful rapidity. Now and then a man fell out of the 
ranks; but the great mass moved swiftly on, steady and 
grand, as the ocean-wave moves upon the shore. 

Another small wood, obstructed with thick underbrush, 
lay between us and the enemy. We broke through it, and 
then were so near that we could see the very color of their 
eyes. Without waiting for orders, our men gave a shout 
and rushed forward, fixing bayonets and running over skir- 
mishers as they went. The Rebels paused a moment, and 
looked at us; then broke, battle-flags and all, running in 
utter confusion across the open field, and to a dense wood 
in the distance. There they made a short stand, but did 


not wait for us to get among them before they were up and 
away again, our bullets planting them in gray heaps about 
the woods and cornfields. At last our brigade was so far i.i 
advance, that we had to turn back, and wait for support 
to save the whole line from being broken. 

At this time I noticed a few Rebels in a ravine directly 
in our front, and beckoned to them to come in and give 
themselves up. They appeared disinclined to accept the 
invitation ; in fact, seemed making up their minds to go the 
other way : and I ran down among them, followed by several 
of my men. I had no pistol ; but, putting my sword-point at 
the breast of one, I demanded his rifle. He gave it up re- 
luctantly, for it was capped and loaded ; and I ordered him 
and another to the rear, while my men managed the rest of 
the party. Then I returned to the crest of the ravine, and 
got a good shot at the main body, which was not yet out of 
point-blank range. By this time, the Rebels in the distance, 
having brought eight guns to bear on the point where we 
were, opened upon us a fire of grape and canister which was 
perfectly murderous. The ravine was very shallow, and the 
Rebels fired very low ; but our regiment lay down, and the 
ground gave them some protection. One of the Rebel 
batteries soon raked the ravine ; and, looking back, I saw 



our poor fellows dropping every here and there. Corporal 
Wordell crept out of the wood, the blood pouring down his 
leg in a stream'; but he crawled along, and joined his com- 
pany : and Captain Chapman, just behind me, threw up his 
arms, while a red spurt, gushing from his head, showed 
that he was badly wounded. All this and much more I saw 
while tearing off a cartridge I had just begged from one of 
the men. 

I emptied the powder into the piece, and was about to 
drive the bullet home, when I saw a sight that startled me. 
It was the Rebels rolling back in a fierce wave directly upon 
us. I cried out to my men, " Take them as they come over 
the ridge ! " 

But our line was rapidly melting away to the rear. 
Some of the officers tried to rally the regiment ; but it was 
of no avail : and a handful of us were left to oppose a whole 
Rebel division. It was nearly upon us, shouting to us to 
surrender, and shooting down almost every man as it swept 

It was madness to stay there; and, throwing down the rifle 
I had not had time to load, I started toward our right and 
rear just as the Rebels struck our left. I had not gone a 
dozen yards, however, before they were within thirty feet, 


their bullets flying all about. A ditch was directly in ad- 
vance ; and, springing into it, I ran along its side : but a 
mounted Rebel rode before the others, and headed me off. 
As he came up, he levelled his pistol ; but I fell flat forward, 
avoiding his shot, and thinking he might suppose me dead. 
For his purpose, however, a dead officer was just as good as a 
live one ; and my ruse did not avail me. Calling me a 
number of impolite names, he raised his pistol, but suddenly 
altered his mind, and ordered me to give him all I had. I 
remonstrated rather feebly ; but he had the best of the ar- 
gument. I produced first a soiled handkerchief, which he 
contemptuously threw on the ground, and then, after con- 
siderable delay, and tugging at the straps and strings, my 
haversack and canteen; devoutly hoping every moment to 
see him fall from his horse, hit by the balls of our men, 
which were flying by quite briskly. Cursing me for my 
slowness, he told me to empty my pockets. I entered 
another protest ; but putting his pistol to my head, and 
crowding his horse against me, he thrust a hand into each 
of my wide jacket-pockets, getting a watch from one, and 
nothing from the other. Meanwhile, putting my hands 
behind me, and drawing a diamond ring from the little 
finger of my left hand, by a careless movement I put it into 


my mouth. He examined me closely, and, finding nothing 
more of value, directed three soldiers who were looking on to 
take me to the rear. Then he happened to observe that 
I had not given up my sword ; and, demanding and receiving 
this, he rode off, taking with my other property a few 
curses, not loud, but deep. They were of consolation to me, 
even if they were of no harm to him. I inquired of the 
men who he was; and they answered, "Gen. Early's 
courier, and part or whole Injun." 

A little farther to the rear, we came upon a Rebel line 
posted behind a stone wall ; and seeing a mounted officer, 
who looked very important, I went up to him, and com- 
plained of my treatment. He replied that he couldn't help 
it, and that our men did the same. I disputed this rather 
warmly, and he was getting the worst of the argument, when 
he rode away. I sat under the wall for some time, talking 
to the Rebels ; but at last an officer came along, and ordered 
me to be taken to the provost-guard. 

On the way, we passed a Rebel standing guard over one of 
our officers, — a staff-officer of the Fourteenth New-Hamp- 
shire. He was lying in a stone hole, his arm broken by a 
Minie-ball. I paused to ask his name and the address of 
his family, and then went on, but had gone only a few steps 


when one of my guard Lad his ankle knocked to pieces by a 
musket-ball. This put the others very much in a hurry; and 
we soon reached the guard, where were about twenty men 
and two officers of my regiment, and about forty or fifty 
of various other regiments, but nearly all of my brigade. 
Quite a number of them were wounded ; one of the officers, 
Lieutenant Marshall, being shot through the neck, and suf- 
fering intensely. I had a number of invitations to give up 
my haversack and canteen, which I had picked up and 
brought along ; but I clung to them, and they were of great 
service to me afterwards. 

While this was going on, a slight lull occurred in the 
battle ; but now it began again furiously, and the Rebels 
seemed to be having the worst of it. Their ambulances 
were continually coming to the rear filled with wounded, 
and the guard kept moving us a little farther and farther 
off; but still the shell would fly over us, and the Minie-balls 
keep scattering all about. The Rebels soon showed signs 
of running ; and a great many stragglers fell away from 
the ranks, looking back with frightened glances. Then all 
at once, off on the extreme left of the Rebel line, a long 
black line of horsemen dashed out of a wood ; and starting 
up in front of them, scarcely waiting to exchange a shot, 


but breaking to the rear in utter panic, I saw the Rebel 
cavalry. The infantry, already wavering, could stand no 
longer ; and a scene of panic and confusion, from its very 
confusion hard to describe, followed. We were driven along 
on a run ; the wounded, who could not be beaten forward, 
being left behind. Some of the Rebel officers begged and 
prayed of their men to stand ; but it was of no avail : they 
were thoroughly demoralized. 

We passed Winchester about half a mile to the right, and 
between the town and our troops, who were shelling us vig- 
orously. Quite a number of Rebels were killed all about us ; 
but none of the prisoners were hurt. 

A little beyond, a squad of cavalry halted our party, and 
robbed such of us as seemed to have any thing worth tak- 
ing. One asked me for my pocket-book, and I was very 
happy to inform him it was on the wagon-train. He was 
about to take my cap ; but I moved out of his way, and 
notified the provost-officer of what was going on. The officer 
tried to induce the cavalry to give up what they had taken, 
and threatened to use force if they did not ; but the horse- 
men challenged him to fight, and being of about equal 
numbers, and better armed, got off* with their booty. 

At five o'clock in the afternoon, we came to a point 


about two miles south of Winchester, where all the Union 
prisoners, about three hundred in number, were gathered ; 
and soon afterwards went through Newtown, Middletown, 
Strasburg, and one or two other small towns, and passed 
Fisher's Hill, which the Rebels boasted they could never 
be driven from. All the way, I kept trying to escape ; but 
the guards were very Vigilant, and, every time I made an 
attempt, would order me back into the ranks, and warn me 
not to try again. Finally we stopped at a wood called 
Tom's Run, and there lay down on the ground utterly 

September twentieth. — We had as yet had nothing to 
eat ; but in the afternoon of this day some flour and fresh 
beef was served to us, and it refreshed us greatly. Occa- 
sional firing could be heard in the direction of Fisher's 
Hill, which now was about two miles away. 

September twenty-first. — Having no blanket, I was very 
cold during the* night. We drew our rations in flour and 
beef, and exchanged them at a house near by for two good 
meals, which were very acceptable. The family were good 
Union people, as were also another family living a little 
farther up the road : in fact, the head of the latter was in 
our army. 


September twenty-second. — Heavy firing was heard dur- 
ing the day in the direction of Fisher's Hill ; and two prison- 
ers were added to our number, who told us that our forces 
were making a determined attack on the Rebel fortifications. 
There was a lull in the afternoon, and we were lying littered 
about on the ground, when one of the officers announced that 
two men of the Twenty-second Iowa were about to give an 
entertainment. Sure enough, they were. Suddenly, as if 
dropped from the clouds, two athletic fellows appeared among 
us, dressed in flesh-colored tights, one with crimson, and the 
other with blue silk breeches, covered with* gold stars, and 
elongated with silver-spangled slippers. Spreading a blanket 
on the grass, they commenced a series of very creditable per- 
formances ; and a large crowd of Rebels gathered round, 
expressing great admiration and wonder. 

All this day, squads and companies of men had been 
going to the front, and also wagon-loads of muskets ; but, at 
four o'clock in the afternoon, there came a number of wagons 
and soldiers down the road in what seemed very much like 
haste and disorder. The officers of our guard did not at 
first know what to make of it ; but they soon learned, and 
ordered us to fall in double - quick, and the guard to 
shoot any man who loitered. The road was soon a mass of 

A PRISON Ell. 53 

wagons and disorganized soldiers, rushing along in the 
wildest confusion. We were started up the valley, but 
had not gone far when a cry arose that our cavalry were 
flanking the Rebels in the gap below. We were then 
started back toward Fisher's Hill, and pressed on to about 
half a mile beyond our camp of the morning. There we 
had to breast the retreating Rebels as a rock breasts a wave. 
We had not gone far, however, before our guard conceived a 
new idea, and ordered us to about-face, and start on the 
back-track again. 

September twenty-third. —We marched all that night, 
and, the next forenoon, arrived in the midst of a heavy rain 
at the town of Newmarket. Lurid fires were blazing behind 
us all night, suggesting burning trains and bridges; and 
scattered all along the road were broken and upset wagons 
and ambulances. The ground was white with flour ; and 
occasionally we stumbled over quantities of fresh beef, grown 
shapeless under the tread of many feet. 

September twenty - fourth*. — At Newmarket we were 
quartered in an old church, and supplied with flour and 
bacon ; and in the afternoon I went out, accompanied by a 
guard, and furnished with about twenty dollars of Confed- 
erate money, to replenish our stock of provisions. One 


young woman asked me all about myself, and would take • no 
pay for what I bought ; and an old lady also, just across the 
street, would accept of nothing, but gave me all she could 
spare from her scanty stores. I saw a good many Union 
families in the valley; but they were afraid to openly ex- 
press their sentiments. 

September twenty-fifth. — We remained in the church all 
night, and part of the next day, during which heavy firing 
continued down the valley. About three in the afternoon, 
we saw signs of another stampede among the Rebels. "We 
were again ordered to fall in, and soon afterward started 
southward, and, marching all night, arrived within eight 
miles of Staunton at sunrise. Each man was here given a 
half-loaf of soft bread ; and, after resting a while, we again 
started for Staunton. 

That night I tried several times to get away; but the 
guard seemed to look out for me particularly. A sergeant 
of the Hundred and Thirty-first New- York proposed to 
escape with me ; and we made the attempt, but came very 
near being shot, and indeed would have been, had not one 
or two of our comrades jostled the guard while we sprang 
into the ranks again, where, owing to the darkness, we could 
not be distinguished. Afterwards I concluded to spring from 


a bridge into the river ; but, when just ready to make the 
leap, two of the guard ranged themselves along by my side, 
and I had to relinquish the attempt. At every piece of 
woods we passed, a perfect fever of escape would come 
over me • but it was well I did not try. Cavalry skirmish- 
ers rode all along the flanks of the column ; and, being some 
distance away, I might have gone right among them : besides, 
every piece of woods was filled with disorganized Rebel caval- 
ry, who, having run until they were tired, had halted, and 
made little bivouacs among the trees. 

We arrived at Staunton about noon, and five crackers 
were given to each one of us for his dinner. After waiting 
there two hours, and being put on and off the train again 
and again according to the whim of the different Rebel offi- 
cers, we finally started, the prisoners on the roof, and the 
Rebels inside, of a train of freight-cars. After twelve miles 
of rough travel, we arrived at Waynesborough, where we went 
into camp on a piece of gravelly ground between two small 
streams. Here we bathed and rested ourselves as well as we 
could, and, gathering some scraps of wood, builded a fire. 
Our guard would not allow us to gather any, except such 
few chips as had drifted on the gravel where we were en- 
camped ; and that night we were very cold. 


September twenty - sixth. — Before daybreak the next 
morning, we started westward to cross the Blue Bidge, and, 
arriving at the summit about sunrise, saw a glorious view 
spread out before us. It was both grand and beautiful, 
and every thing seemed to combine to make it so. I lin- 
gered and looked until I exhausted the patience of the guard, 
and was ordered to start on down the mountain. We had 
eaten nothing since noon of the previous day, and not enough 
then, and had become very hungry. The officer of the guard 
told us that provisions were behind in a wagon, and that 
we should receive some after going a little farther ; but we 
marched twenty miles farther, and received none. There 
probably was none in the wagons : it was only a ruse of the 
officer to get us forward. Some of the men sank down in 
the road, utterly exhausted; but I bore up well, and my 
feet were sound, while those of many others were a perfect 
pulp of blister. 

At length we arrived at Meacham-Biver Depot, and were 
told again that we should certainly have food given us, but, 
after waiting a while, were put upon platform-cars, such as 
wood is carried on, and started toward Bichmond without 
any. We arrived at Charlottesville at dark, and again were 
told that our fast should be broken, but, after waiting an 


hour or more, — long enough for some of the officers of the 
guard to get comfortably intoxicated, — were started on again 
hungry. The cars were much crowded, and no sleep visited 
our eyes that night. It was very cold too, and the chill wind 
struck through to our bones as we rode swiftly on against it. 

September twenty-seventh. — Early in the morning we 
arrived in Richmond, and were marched directly from the 
cars to the Libby Prison, having quite a view of the city on 
the way. We were insulted by a few persons; but most 
of the people contented themselves with staring at us, as if 
they knew we had whipped them well, and were, therefore, 
not disposed to glory in our misfortunes. 

When we reached the prison, the officers were separated 
from the men, and marched into a gloomy passage-way, and 
then one at a time taken into an office, where our names, 
regiment, company, and residence at time of enlistment, 
were taken down. Then we were taken into another room, 
and thoroughly searched. We were told, that, if we gave 
up our money, it would be kept account of, and returned 
to us on our removal ; but if we did not give it up, and it 
was found, it would be confiscated : so far as I know, no 
money was ever returned. Our haversacks, canteens, blan- 
kets, and such papers as were considered contraband, were 


also taken from us. We were then marched up stairs, and 
put into a room with many other officers, the most of whom 
belonged to the second corps and were captured at Reim's 
Station. They were all very eager to hear about the battle, 
and we gave them all the news we could. 

We were nearly famished, but were given nothing to eat 
until the middle of the afternoon, when about half a pint of 
black bean-soup, and a junk of bread of about the size and 
shape of a man's fist, very sour and tough, were served out 
to us. That night we huddled together, and managed to get 
a little sleep, although it was very cold, and the floor was 
hard and uncomfortable. The officers were kept in the 
upper and next to the upper story. Both stories were 
pierced with many windows ; but there was no glass, nor any 
thing but a few rusty iron bars, to keep out the cold wind. 
We had a very good view of Richmond from the upper win- 
dows. The Capitol Building, Castle Thunder, the James 
River and the bridge across it, a monster flburing-mill, the 
higher part of Belle Isle, the great Government Foundry, 
and a number of other noted places, were all in plain view. 

September twenty-eighth. — We had for breakfast a piece 
of bread of the same size and quality as before, and a small 
piece of beef; and for dinner the same food as yesterday. 


After dinner, there was a roll-call ; and all fell in, in four 
ranks, down stairs, to the music of two fifes, a kettle, and a 
bass-drum, played by some of our boys who had been cap- 
tured. The music was very good and inspiriting, and we 
were reluctant to go up stairs again. We were supplied with 
good water, but with not quite enough of it. It was brought 
up in a leaden pipe, with faucets, but did not run all of 
the time ; and there was no soap. We were told we might 
buy bread at a dollar a loaf; and such of the officers as had 
Confederate money bought, and divided it among the mess. 
We were divided into messes of thirteen, and drew our 
rations, except the beans, in gross, and then divided them. 
We had to march down stairs to get the beans ; and such 
of the prisoners as had no dishes had to go without the soup, 
and take the beans in their hands. Most of them had dishes, 
however, or soon procured them from others. 

I made the acquaintance of a number of officers, and the 
time passed away quite agreeably. We walked about the 
room a great deal, usually keeping time, and in four ranks, 
but had to be careful about going to the windows ; the guards 
having orders to shoot any one looking out. We could, 
however, by keeping an eye on the sentinels, and drawing 


back when they turned towards us, get stray glimpses of 
the outside world. 

September twenty-ninth. — The day passed the same as 
yesterday, except that in the afternoon a great battle was 
fought down the James, on the left bank of the river. We 
could see shells bursting, and clouds of smoke rolling up 
from the musketry-fire, and were somewhat excited at 
the tremendous roar of the conflict. The people in Rich- 
mond appeared panic-stricken, and ran about the streets like 
lost chickens. At night the tumult died away ; but, all the 
afternoon, wounded men came straggling into town, and all 
the night large bodies of troops were moving out to the 
place of attack. 

September thirtieth. — Our food this day was the same as 
the day before. "We saw re-enforcements going to the scene 
of battle in large numbers ; and in the forenoon a few pris- 
oners were brought in, who told us that our forces had taken 
Fort Harrison. In the afternoon there was another very 
fierce fight, which, for a time, kept us in great suspense. 
We organized into squads under colonels, the whole under 
command of General Hayes of the second corps ; so that, in 
case the city should be taken, we could co-operate with our 


forces. This last battle closed about sunset ; and we heard 
afterwards that it was an unsuccessful Rebel attempt to retake 
Fort Harrison. 

October second. — At about two or three o'clock in the 
morning, we heard a banging noise in the room below ; and 
some of the old residents said it was the stairs being hauled 
into place, — they were taken down every night, — and that 
" something was up ; " and, sure enough, soon afterwards we 
were ordered to fall in immediately, and to leave all blankets 
behind. I concealed mine by wrapping it about me, and 
buttoning my jacket and trousers over it, the garments not 
fitting as tightly as they did before my capture. 

We were soon taken down stairs, and furnished with a 
haversack, containing what was called three-days' rations ; 
though I had to exercise great self-denial to refrain from eat- 
ing them all in one day. We then formed in the street in 
four ranks, with guards all around us, and marched off 
in the dark, crossing the James on the lower or road bridge. 
I was strongly inclined to jump off into the river, and escape 
by swimming ; but the roaring of the water told that it was 
very rocky, and I did not dare to make the attempt, al- 
though I was quivering with jump all over. 

Soon after crossing the river, we came to a train of box 


freight-cars, and were put into them, about fifty into each, 
two guards at each door, and the top of each car covered 
with them. The ends of the cars were very dark, and so 
close that we could scarcely breathe ; and some of the men 
crowded into the doors, thus making bad worse. The air 
finally grew so stifling, that I determined to cut a hole 
through the car ; and after an hour of hard carving with a 
dull knife, keeping one eye on the guard, I made an 
aperture about two inches long and one inch wide, which 
improved the atmosphere, and enabled us to see a little of 
the outside world. It was back of a brace, and the guard 
did not detect the opening. 

At night, while we went the distance of about ten miles, 
all the doors were closed on one side of the train ; and we 
concluded we were passing something the Rebels did not wish 
us to see. About an hour after dark, the train stopped ; and 
we were allowed to encamp in a little piece of woods near the 
track, the wood and the train being very closely encircled by 
guards, — so closely indeed, that, though I went all around 
the lines, I could see no chance to get through. I lost my 
single piece of bread on my rounds ; but an officer found it, 
and gave it to me again. 


WE were put aboard the train at daybreak, and 
started for Danville. The hole I had cut in the 
car proved very useful as well as pleasant. After we had 
gone some way, I saw a river running side by side with the 
railroad, though somewhat more crooked, and, inquiring of 
two or three Tennessee guerilla (Union) officers, was told 
it was the Dan. I almost persuaded these officers to 
attempt to get away with me. They said they would, but 
did not seem inclined to start when I proposed to go : so I 
set out without them. I wanted them as companions, be- 
cause they knew the country thoroughly; one of them having 
traded cattle all through that region. They talked of getting 
back by the way of Knoxville, and I remembered all they 

We kept on some distance by the side of the river ; and I 
conceived the idea of getting free in some way by its help, 
but formed no definite plan. The stream was muddy, and 


ranj:apidly ; and along its shore were a great many willows, 
some of them stretching far over and into the water. At 
about half-past eight, a.m., we arrived at a place called 
Barksdale Depot, about ten miles from Danville ; and there 
the train stopped on a turnout to wait for two other trains, 
and to procure wood and water. The river here ran about 
three rods from the railroad ; the ground sloping gradually 
from the track to the water, where was a perpendicular 
bank of five or six feet, with scarcely standing-room at the 

Ten or twelve officers asked permission to go down to the 
river to wash their hands and faces, and it was granted ; and 
they started, accompanied by half a dozen guards. When I 
first heard the application, I determined to be one of the 
party, and to improve any opportunity there might be of 
escaping. Taking my knife and the small piece of bread 
left from my three-days' rations, I went with the rest, passing 
a little to the right of them, and farther up the river. By 
stooping low, I could get out of sight of the guard, as they 
did not stand directly on the edge of the bank. I sat down 
and bathed my hands and face, being tolerably long about it, 
and, when it seemed about time to return, looked up through 
the weeds, and concluded, from the behavior of the guard, 

that they had not counted us, and had no idea of any one 
getting away. 

Some of the officers had then gone back to the train. 
"Now, or never," I thought to myself, as I looked at the 
river, my heart beating heavily. Near to me was a small 
willow, with a large spreading stump, and roots partly 
covered with drift-wood ; and the river, gliding swiftly by, 
made its long trailing branches bow and sway in the rippling 
current. With a fervent but short prayer, I made up my 
mind to " liberty or death." At first I decided to swim off 
under water ; but, not being sure I could do so without 
making a splashing, I determined to immerse all but my 
face, and, crawling under the roots of the willow-tree, to 
take to swimming as a last resort : for, once in the water, it 
would be sure death to be seen by the guards. Taking a 
long look of every thing about me, not knowing but it might 
be my last, I thought of my friends at home, said another 
short prayer, drew a long breath, and then slid off into the 

The icy water struck coldly through my clothes, and made 
me shiver ; but I did not mind it. I got under the drift 
stuff, keeping just enough of my face out to breathe, and 
then daubed my cap with the clayey mud, and put it on to 


keep my black hair from showing. I had scarcely done 
this when I heard the order, "All those Yanks that are 
down thar washin', come up ! " The other officers who had 
not already gone scrambled up the bank, and returned to 
the cars. 

But as yet there were no sounds of the coming trains. 
Soon I heard some one at the cars, in a voice of authority, 
ask, " Are you sure all those Yanks came up?" — "Yes, 
we reckons they has." — "Go down and see ! " said the voice 
again ; and soon three or four sauntered along the bank. 
They did not see me, and returned satisfied to the train ; 
and, my place in the cars being a dark corner, the guard 
had not discovered my absence. But still the trains did not 
come. I was chilled through and through by the cold 
mountain- water ; but- 1 cared little for the cold: I thought 
only of the train. Would it ever go ? 

I had to keep very quiet, because a ferry crossed the 
river just above, and several white men had come to the 
bank, and recently crossed over. After a time, which 
seemed an age, though it was really only twenty minutes, I 
heard the rumble of cars in' the distance. It was a pleasant 
sound, and grew louder and pleasanter very fast ; and soon 
the train arrived, and stopped at the depot ; and, about the 


same time, I heard the other train coming from Richmond. 
It also soon arrived ; and after a deal of switching backward 
and forward, blowing of whistles, ringing of bells, and 
shouting of men, all the trains got under way. As the one 
in which I had come went by, I heard the prisoners give a 
loud cheer, and thought it was for my escape, as they 
would instantly detect my absence, even if the guard did 

Waiting until every thing was quiet, I crept; out of the 
river, and crawled among the weeds for the water to drip 
from my clothing, and also for a boat to pass which was 
then coming up the river. When the boat had passed, I set 
out for a piece* of woods about a quarter of a mile down the 
stream, taking off my jacket, that its showy dark-blue might 
not be seen from the depot, which was dangerously near. 
Wrapping my cap in my jacket, the gray lining of the jacket 
turned outwards, I set out, dragging myself along on my 
stomach, pushing my bundle before me, and making as little 
rustling among the weeds as possible. 

Reaching the wood at last, I took off my pants, wringing 
the water from them, and scraping the mud off as well as I 
could. I was very hungry, but had eaten my bread while 


' in the river, being determined to enjoy all the good things 
of this world while they lasted. 

As soon as my clothes were a little righted, I started to go 
hack from the river, and, watching my opportunity, crossed 
the railroad without being seen, and then, keeping on in a 
north-westerly direction, and going about half a mile, came 
to another wood, near which was a house and outbuildings. 
I was anxious to look off into the country, but could find no 
elevated ground, and decided to hide away for the day, and 
at night go down to the depot, where there was probably a 
road leading into the country. My intention was to make 
my way westward to the Alleghanies, and over them to 
Knoxville, Tennessee, according to the programme of the 
officers I had conversed with on the cars. 

The depot was still in sight; and I went as near to it 
as possible, and waited there for the darkness. I went on 
until I came to the edge of the wood, and then hid in a 
little ravine formed by a rivulet which ran under the rail- 
road and into the river. It was then about noon, and had 
begun to rain ; but I was already wet through, and all of a 
shiver. I was hungry too ;' for though I had gathered sassa- 
fras-leaves, and found a little apple in the brook, they did 
not satisfy my appetite. 

The day came to an end at last; but it was a long day of 
patient waiting. When it was quite dark, I started for the 
depot. It was still raining, but not heavily. I reached the 
station in safety, although a man passed within arm's-length 
of me as I lay hidden in a clump of bushes by the side of 
the road. A number of men were lounging about the sta- 
tion, but none of them saw me ; and I soon came to a high- 
road, as I had expected, or rather to half a dozen of them, 
forking in all directions. I chose one, and, following it a short 
distance, came to a brook which had to be forded, and, keep- 
ing on a little farther, reached a gate which blocked up my 
farther progress. This did not look much like a highway ; 
but I determined to keep on, and find some negro who could 
give me information. Scouting along, I soon stumbled upon 
the railroad again, and, following it a short distance, saw 
something of a clayey- white color alongside, and below the 
track. A stone I tossed down struck with a dull sound, as 
if on plank covered with dirt ; and concluding it was a plank- 
road, and that I should not be so likely to meet soldiers on 
it as on the railroad, I scrambled down to it, and walked ra- 
pidly forward. 

It soon began to rain again, and became very dark. With 
nothing whatever to show the way, I soon concluded the 



plank-road was a humbug; for it grew narrower and nar- 
rower, with numerous paths diverging from it, and at 
last ended in a path itself. There I found some sugar- 
cane, which was very palatable. I struck then through a 
tobacco-field, and into a corn-field, gathering a pocketful 
of corn, not very hard, and very acceptable. Scouting 
along a fence, I soon caught sight of a gloomy-looking build- 
ing just to my left, and, going very closely to it, found it to 
be a high log affair, with no apparent doors or windows. 
On its farther side, however, very low down, was an opening, 
through which a ruddy light was streaming. I thought it 
might be a blacksmith-shop ; but creeping noiselessly up to 
the door, and looking in, I saw I was mistaken. A glowing 
fire was burning in the centre of the room, and beside it 
lay an old negro sleeping. Seeing no one else, I decided 
to Cultivate the old man's acquaintance. 

Going quietly in by the partly open door, I sat down by 
the fire, the negro still sleeping soundly. I warmed my- 
self, and partly dried my clothes, scraping off" some of the 
mud, and, sitting about ten minutes, reached over, and shook 
the old man by the shoulder, telling him to wake up, — 
as wide awake as possible. He opened his eyes, and stared 
at me for a while with a stupid, frightened look, but, on my 


asking if he was wide awake, said, " Sartin, massa." I then 
told him I was a Yankee. 

" Gofry-mitey, massa! is you a Yankee?" he cried, his 
eyes opening wide with astonishment. I soon convinced him I 
was ; and he opened his heart, telling me all his grievances, 

— stopping frequently to express his astonishment at seeing 
a live Yankee, and his regret at having nothing for me to 
eat. He was very anxious to get me some food, and a knife 
also in place of mine, which he said " was no 'count." 

I inquired the way to Knoxville ; but he did not know 
where it, or Tennessee, or the Alleghanies were, hut thought 
his son-in-law, who could read and write, would be able to 
tell me. The son-in-law could also give me food, and a 
change of clothes in place of my Federal blue. The old 
man gave me directions how to find him, as well as he could ; 
but, being very old, his mind was vague and wandering. 
However, he was sure it was only seven miles away ; and 
one point on the road was impressed on his mind particularly, 

— Sandy Creek, and the church on the hill just this side of 
it. These were almost the only set landmarks he could 
think of. 

After warming myself thoroughly, I set out; the old man 
going a short distance to start me right. Although he 


was scarcely able to walk, he directed me as well as he could 
to the road, and, pointing out a star — one of the very few 
showing themselves in the rents in the clouds — as my guide 
for the rest of the way, wished me all sorts of good luck, 
and we parted. His name was Fairborne ; and the building 
in which I found him was a dry-house for the curing of to- 
bacco, called in those parts a tobacco-barn. The country is 
dotted all over with these buildings, some plantations having 
eight or ten scattered about in the fields : they are all alike, 
but they form quite a feature in the scenery. 

I had not gone far before the heavens grew entirely black ; 
but I kept on as nearly as I could in the direction the old 
man had given. The road, he had said, was a " lane-road ; " 
that is, fenced in : and at last I came to one which I thought 
answered the description. My spirits grew buoyant ; and I 
went on with a light heart, though it had begun to rain again, 
and I was quite hungry. I walked some two or three miles, 
and then came to a fork in the road. The old man had 
told me not to turn to the left, as the left-hand path led to 
the river : so I kept to the right, and travelled on and on, 
crossing one broad road, and coming to the railway, where a 
high bridge carried the wagon-track over it. I knew the old 
man would have spoken of it if it had been on my route : 


so I concluded I must be going wrong, and went back until 
I came to the road which crossed the one I was then on, and, 
turning to the left, went about two miles, when it, too, be- 
gan to grow small, and beautifully less. Then I turned back, 
and into the other road again, thinking I would cross, and 
keep on ; but, before going half a mile, I decided to turn 
back, and go all the way back to the forks, and, taking the 
left-hand road, give that a trial. 

A few dogs made a great noise as I went by the houses ; 
but no one was stirring ; and, after a while, I got back to 
where I had started. I was very tired, having walked about 
fifteen miles. The rain, too, was falling in torrents, and the 
mud was deep and heavy ; and owing to the darkness, the 
blinding rain, and the roughness of the road, I had stumbled 
continually, and fallen headlong several times. This had 
greatly exhausted me ; but I was not discouraged, and, after 
resting a while at the fork, started again, with good spirits, 
on the left-hand road. 

I had gone only a short distance on this road before it be- 
came fully as bad if not worse than the others ; and utterly 
exhausted, and very faint from hunger, I lay down on some 
logs by the roadside, and, spite of the pouring rain, fell into 
a sound sleep. I awoke after a while, and feeling somewhat 


stronger, although stiff and cold, started on again. Going 
about five miles on this road, I saw bright lights ahead, and, 
keeping on still farther, came among some buildings. I con- 
cluded it was near morning, and the people were milking. 
It was not prudent to go to them, for the overseer might 
be about ; and the cock too, which was crowing, warned me 
to look about for a hiding-place for the coming day. It was, 
however, imperatively necessary that I should procure food ; 
and, knowing there must be negro-cabins on the plantation, 
I tried to find them. Passing a number of buildings 
whose appearance warned me not to trust them, I came to 
a double cabin, where a child was crying most lustily. Paus- 
ing a moment, and listening, I heard a voice, unmistakably 
negro, trying to hush the child. This decided me ; and I 
rapped at the door loudly. No answer came, and soon I 
rapped again; when some one inside called out, "Who's 
dar ? " 

I did not feel at liberty to tell, the other houses being too 
near; and in a low tone asked to be admitted. 

After a long delay, and some impatient promptings from 
me, a person inside, named Willis, was roused up, and, with 
repeated urgings, induced to open the door. I slipped in, 
and found myself in a "perfect nest of negroes of all ages, 

sick, stupid, and with nothing to eat. It was a sort of hos- 
pital and nursery combined, where sick persons and very 
young children were hived while their parents and natural 
protectors were out at work. I saw at once it was no place 
for me, and inquired of Willis who were the tenants of the 
other part of the cabin. He answered, an old man and 
woman ; and they were at home, unless out making " 'lasses." 
It appeared that what I had taken to be milking was the 
boiling of sorghum-syrup, and that the slave people were 
engaged at the work all night. 

After a deal of knocking at the door, I was admitted to 
the other half of the cabin, and found there a middle-aged 
man and woman. By telling them my story, and using all 
my eloquence, I finally enlisted their sympathies. I asked 
them to conceal me in the cabin. They would not hear to 
that, but gave me a small piece of miserable stuff they 
called bread, and some sour syrup, which I ate ravenously. 
The food was not fit for swine ; but it was the best they had, 
and I was very thankful for it. After I had eaten, the man 
proposed to hide me in the loft of the stable, under some 
piles of oat-straw. The stable, he said, was down in a hollow, 
in a direction opposite to the sorghum-mill ; and as the white 
folks, and especially the children, would be busy at the mill 


all day, I would not be likely to be disturbed. In a short 
time, we went there ; and I climbed up to the dark loft, and 
crept into the first straw I could find, intending when day 
broke, and I could look about ine, to improve my lodgings. 

I at once fell asleep, but was soon awakened by some one 
below calling out, " Greorge, Greorge ! " No George ap- 
peared to be in the vicinity ; and the man soon came scram- 
bling up into the loft. I couldn't tell by his voice whether 
he was white or black ; and I crept as far into the straw as I 
could without making a noise. Having reached the loft, the 
man began groping about as if in search of something. At 
every step he approached nearer and nearer to me, and at 
last put his hand right upon my shoulder. I sprang up, 
grappled him, told him to be silent, and then asked who he 
was. He said his name was Sam, and that he was looking 
for one of the hands whom the overseer Wanted. 

I told him who I was, and asked him not to betray me ; 
and he assured me he would not. Then I released my 
hold, and let him go. He appeared to be in no hurry, but 
sat down in the dark, and asked me all sorts of questions. 
At last, fearing the overseer would follow him, I asked him 
to leave ; and he went, first telling me to go into a far 
corner of the stable, and hide under a large heap of straw 


to which he pointed. I got under the straw, and made as 
comfortable a nest as I could. Several men soon came into 
the stable, and chopped some of the straw and hay for 

The rain had ceased falling; and after a while the sun 
rose beautifully, promising a fine day. I slept most of the 
forenoon, and in the afternoon crawled out, and cleaned 
some of the mud from my clothes, making them at least ten 
pounds the lighter. The mud I threw out of the loft door, 
and then went back to my nest. Soon afterwards, two men 
and a boy came into the stable, and up to the loft, and 
began chopping the straw in a chopping-machine. The 
boy's voice showed that he was white. I kept very still, and 
crept well under the straw ; and it was fortunate I did so, 
for the boy pulled some of it from directly over me to feed 
the machine. 

After a while they all went away, and soon afterwards 
the sun set. The negro who had given me the bread had 
promised to send a man to show me the road ; and, about 
nine o'clock in the evening, this man came into the loft, 
bringing a pail of water and two pieces of warm bread, 
with a little piece of pork skewered on to the bread. This 
was very acceptable, and I ate nearly all of it. However, 


the man said he could not go with me, because he had to 
work that night. I was very much disappointed at this, but 
took courage, and, deciding to make the best of my situation, 
got the direction as near as I could, and set out for another 
night of wandering. 

I wandered about all night, going through almost impene- 
trable forests and brier-jungles, up and down steep hills, across 
brooks, ditches, and over ploughed ground and old corn- 
fields ; but no road could I find. At last I lay down under 
a pine-tree, breaking off some boughs to keep me from the 
damp ground : but the night was so cold, I could not sleep ; 
and getting up, and wandering about again, I came to a 
tobacco-barn, and, entering it, found the floor covered with 
corn-husks. Heaping some of the dryest of these husks 
together, I lay down upon them, and soon fell into a deep 

I was at last awakened by some one opening the door 
of the barn. By the red light of daybreak, which shone 
through the chinks of the logs, I saw it was an elderly white 
man, carrying a basket on each arm. Passing me so closely, 
that, by reaching out, I could have touched him, he made 
his way to the back of the barn, and filled his basket with 
corn, of which there was a little pile in that part of the 


building. Having done this, he went away, passing again 
closely to me without giving any sign of recognition. I was 
covered with husks to my waist; and the lining of my 
jacket, which I wore outside, was of about the color of dried 
corn-leaves. I kept perfectly still, and felt somewhat re- 
lieved when he closed the door, but not entirely at ease. 
He might, perhaps, have seen me, and have gone to bring 
help. Springing up, I caught sight of him passing round 
a corner of a wood. I followed, intending to set my mind 
at rest ; and soon saw him go to a house surrounded by 
sheds and outbuildings of all shapes and sizes, and begin to 
do up his morning chores. This satisfied me that all was 

An old apple-tree stood near ; and under it were a few 
windfalls which had not been deemed worth picking : these 
I confiscated, and went back to the barn. By the daylight, 
I discovered there was a scaffolding built on the cross-pieces 
upon which the tobacco was hung to dry. It was covered 
with bundles of corn-leaves ; and, climbing up to it, I broke 
my fast on the bit of bread I had left, and some of the ap- 
ples, and, after that, fell asleep again. 

I soon heard voices outside, and, looking through a crev- 
ice, saw the same old man and three children picking peas in 


an adjoining field. Every little while the children would pass 
by with loaded "baskets, carrying them down to the woods 
beyond. I had begun to think the road to Danville was a 
myth, — a kind of will-o'-the-wisp, — and wanted to look for 
it in the daylight, and so be rid of the terrible indefinite- 
ness and doubt of night-tramping : so, watching an opportu- 
nity when the children had disappeared down the wood-path, 
I slipped out, and, the door being on the side away from the 
man, got away unseen. 

I scouted along in what seemed to be the right direction, 
hoping to come upon some negro who would show me *the 
road, but met none until it was quite dark. I had struck 
a narrow road, and decided to follow it; when, looking back, 
I saw a horseman coming, and changed my mind. Conceal- 
ing myself in a ditch, I waited for him to go by. He was a 
young man, mounted on a stout sorrel horse. 

Crossing the road, I then kept along near it, in the woods, 
and took my way to the top of a high hill not far distant, 
wishing to get a view of the country to the south-west. Very 
many trees obstructed the view from the crest of the hill : 
but beyond it was another and comparatively bare hill ; and, 
although there was a house upon it, I determined to recon- 
noitre it, and see if I could not discover the road to Dan- 


ville. Going into a ravine, and crawling down on the other 
side, I soon discovered that the house was deserted. I had 
a very extensive view from an upper window, but could 
see nothing but the same old things, — round hills and 
tobacco-barns, and round hills and pine-woods ; the former 
the more numerous of the two. The only moving thing in 
sight was a flock of sheep about half a mile away. 

I did not like the appearance of things in that direction, 
and went back to the road, gathering a few ripe fox-grapes 
on the way. The road looked much smaller than when I 
left it ; and, seeing a few houses a quarter of a mile away, 
I concluded it had forked between where I left it and where 
I came upon it again. I started back for the fork, but had 
not gone far before I came to a road branching to the right ; 
and thinking it might lead to the main road, if there were 
any, I turned into it, and was walking carelessly along, 
when I came directly upon a tobacco-barn. I was very near 
to it ; when suddenly a white man walked out, and com- 
menced handing tobacco to some one inside. Falling on 
the ground, I drew myself slowly and quietly back, and 
managed, without being seen, to get to a little hollow, deep 
enough to conceal my body. I lay there, and watched ; and 
soon a team passed laden with tobacco, and soon afterwards 


a little negro boy ran by within half a yard of me. I was 
afraid he had seen ine, and would tell the people at the 
barn ; so I crawled back still farther, but not out of sight of 
the barn : and soon an old white hound, which had followed 
the boy, came and made friends with me. 

I determined to speak to the negroes when they should 
return ; and after they had unloaded the tobacco, and 
started back, I ran out, and jumped upon their wagon. 
They looked at me with great astonishment, but with a bit 
of a smile lurking in the corners of their eyes. I asked them 
if they knew what kind of an individual I was. They 
laughed, and looked at one another with knowing looks, but 
said nothing. They were two quite pretty girls, a young 
man, and the boy. I told them who I was, and what I 
wanted. The girls asked if I was married ; and, when I 
told them I was not, they said they were glad, for it was 
bad enough that the old folks should worry about me. They 
were very inquisitive, and asked very sensible questions. 

I rode to the tobacco-field with them ; and they told me to 
hide in a wooded ravine near by until night, and to come 
up then to the stable near the house, and they would give 
me something to eat, and full directions how to find the 
wished-for road. 


I waited until night in the wood, and, while waiting, 
saw one of the girls come down, and pass very near to me, 
and then come back again. Concluding from her movements 
that she was searching for me, I gave a low whistle ; when 
she approached, and told me I must not go to the stable, but 
to a straw-stack some distance in the rear. 

As soon as it was dark, I went there, and crouching 
down between one of the stacks and a little pen, and waiting 
a while, heard a man coming from the house, singing in that 
weird and doleful style peculiar to the slaves of the South. 
He laughed when he found me, saying he did not know but 
I might be kept away by the fear of betrayal. I said I 
could trust him ; for he was too smart to betray one of his 
best friends to his worst enemies. He saw the matter in 
that light precisely. 

We sat a while under the stack while I ate a hearty sup- 
per of the food he had brought, — some fresh milk, sor- 
ghum-syrup, and warm corn-bread. He kept a respectful 
silence while I was eating, but overwhelmed me with ques- 
tions about the state of affairs at the North, and more par- 
ticularly about the plans and feelings of the Government 
with regard to the negro, as soon as I said my hunger was 
satisfied. I was surprised at the good seuse he showed, 


and answered him very carefully and conscientiously. One 
of the man's friends soon came by, and asked him to go 
a-hunting ; and, not wishing the other to know I was there, 
he pretended to be pulling straw out of the stack, and told 
his friend to go to the stable, and wait for him there. 

Soon afterwards I bade him good-by, and started with 
a light heart for the road, which, it appeared, was a mile 
and a half or two miles to the northward. There was a 
new moon and a bright starlight, and they made the way 
pleasant. When near the road, I met about a dozen ne- 
groes, and, as I passed, heard one of them say, "Why, 
he'm a white man ! " My jacket was wrong side out, and 
it was not light enough for my blue trousers to be seen. 
I judged from appearances that they had been to some 
religious meeting. 

At last I found the road I had been so long looking 
for. It seemed like an old friend; and I started towards 
Danville, feeling that every step brought me nearer to 
freedom. Going about a mile, I came to the church, 
which the old negro had said was near to Sandy Creek; 
and was so glad to see it, and to know that I was on my right 
way, that I took off my hat to it as I went by. Soon 
afterwards I came to the creek, and, with a light heart, 


kept on, passing two tobacco-barns on the left, and a plan- 
tation with its village of cabins and outbuildings on the 

Not long afterwards, I reached the plantation I had so 
long been in pursuit of. The sky was somewhat cloudy; 
and, the buildings being among a dense grove of trees, I 
could not tell one from another. After wandering about, 
and waking up all the dogs, I decided to go back to the 
road, and wait until the dogs had stopped howling. Going 
about two miles towards Danville, I turned back, and 
went in once more among the buildings, but soon became 
utterly confused again. They seemed of all shapes and 
sizes, and to face in all directions. Coming at last to one 
which did not look stylish enough for white folks, nor yet 
poor enough for negroe's, I decided to knock at its door, 
and trust to luck to extricate me if I should get into 
difficulty. A dog at the steps jumped up, and barked 
and growled at me furiously ; but I knocked, and pres- 
ently a very tall, middle-aged man, arrayed in shirt and 
drawers, came to the door. 

I told him I wanted to see Bob Bunyan ; that I was on 
my way to Danville, and had seen his father-in-law a 
short distance back, who had desired me to stop, and tell 


Bob that he was sick, and wanted him to go to him. This 
seemed to satisfy the man; and he told me to go right 
down the path, and I would come to Bob's cabin. I 
went on, and soon came to another house just like the 
first, and, supposing it to be the cabin, knocked at the 
door. A dog sprang up, and I thought he would go dis- 
tracted. He made a horrid din; but above it I at last 
distinguished a sharp voice, asking who I was, and what 
I wanted. I said, if she would stop the dog's noise, I 
would tell her; and she screamed out again, "Who be 
ye? Is ye a white man, or a nigger?" 

I told her I was a white man who wanted to see Bob 
Bunyan. "Lucky ye told me that just as ye did, or 
I'd ha' put a load into ye, shore. I don't see what a 
white man wants with a nigger anyhow." 

I told her the same story I had told the man; and she 
said she would tell Bob in the morning. I proposed to 
save her the trouble; but she cried again, "I'd like to 
know who ye be ! " Being tired of shouting above the 
uproar of the dogs, and thinking the woman might learn 
too accurately who I was if I remained much longer, I 
made no reply, but started across a piece of ploughed 
ground in what I supposed was the direction of the road. 


Coming to a zig-zag fence, I crept along tbe top of it for 
some distance, and then sprang into the road on the other 
side : by this means I expected to balk the scent of the 
dogs if they undertook to track me ; and I was sure they 
would, because men were moving about with lights, 
shouting, and making a great noise on the plantation. 

Springing upon the fence again, I started back toward 
the creek until I came to the next plantation. The 
houses and cabins were on the right of the road, and 
some shops and stables were on the left. I went into one 
of these stables, and by climbing up, and feeling over- 
head, found at last a door opening into the loft above. 
I expected to find some hay and straw in which to lie 
down and conceal myself; but there was not enough for 
the latter purpose ; and, after resting a while, I evacuated 
the stable, and kept on toward the creek. 

I soon came to a tobacco-barn, on the right of the 
road, and, going into it, hid behind a pile of straw. I 
was tired enough to sleep : but the rats ran over me, and 
nibbled at my hair and shoes whenever I was quiet; and 
I was forced to lie awake. I staid there until about the 
middle of the following afternoon, and then saw a man 
at work at another barn, about a quarter of a mile distant, 


He might be a negro : so I decided to go down the road 
and ascertain. I did so, and, getting near enough to 
see he was of the loyal color, whistled, and beckoned 
him to come over to the road. I inquired if there was 
any one working with him, and he said no ; and I then 
told him who I was, and that I wanted to see Bob 

He advised me to hide in the barn, and promised to 
bring me some food at night, and go with me to Bob's 
house. The plantation mansion was in sight; but it 
was located in a deep hollow, and some distance off: and 
going into the barn, and seeing it would be a good hiding- 
place, I decided to follow the negro's advice. There 
was a scaffolding in the barn, built upon poles, about as 
high as a man's head, and covered thick with sugar-cane- 
seed spread out to dry ; and under this scaffolding was 
a quantity of straw and fodder. I made a nest in this 
fodder, in the back part of the barn, under the scaffold- 
ing; and at night the man came, bringing another with 
him by the name of Justin. After conversing a while, 
the first negro accompanied me to see Bob. 

I found this earnestly-sought individual not much of 
a man after all, and was not a little disappointed. He 

appeared to have no decision of character. I asked him 
what he knew about the road to Knoxville ; and his 
answers were indefinite and unsatisfactory. He had no 
clothes, hut thought he could get some if I could wait 
until Sunday, when he should go over to his wife's house. 
I asked the other man where I had better stay, and he ad- 
vised me to remain in the barn. I went there, and, snug- 
gling again into my bed of straw, slept soundly. 

Bunyan told me he could not imagine who it was 
that had made such an ado the night before at the 
plantation. He said they tried to track me, but lost 
the trail after going about two miles. The dogs could 
not find it again : they did not once think of my going 
upon the fence. 

October seventh was the anniversary of my enlistment. * 
Three years in the service ! No event worth mention hap- 
pened during the day. I kept very close, and at night 
received some food from the negro. The day was very 
cold ; and a strong north wind came through the chinks 
of the logs, making my straw-bed an airy one. 

October eighth. — Nothing occurred this day worth not- 
ing. The weather was again cold, and the wind as high 
as during the previous day. 


October ninth. — This was Sunday, and it blew a hur- r 
ricane. The day was again very cold, and the barn 
much exposed. I went into the road, hoping to find some 
place sheltered from the wind, and perhaps some nuts 
or fruit; for the negroes did not bring me as much food 
as my hunger demanded. I had quite a pleasant tramp, 
and did not return to the barn until late in the afternoon. 
Then I ascended the scaffolding to eat some sugar-cane 
I had gathered ; and while sitting there, stripping off the 
tough outside, and eating the sweet pith of the cane, a 
shadow darkened the door, the top of which was about 
on a level with my seat. Looking down, I saw stand- 
ing in the entrance a portly, well-dressed old man, with 
a fat, florid face, blue eyes, and long, silvery white hair. 
• He wore gold eye-glasses, and carried a gold-headed cane. 
I did not dare to move. He peered about under the 
scaffolding at his fodder, and then, standing on tiptoe, 
looked up to the platform to see how his cane-seed was 
thriving. It was somewhat dark, and he did not see me 
at first; but, when he did, he -started, and cried out, 

I echoed the salutation. 

"You're a soldier, I reckon?" he said. 



" Yaas," I answered, imitating the voice of a Southerner. 
" I b'long ter the Seventh Looisiana. I'm gwine on down 
ter Danville : got some tired, and thought I'd come in 
here ter rest." 

"Ah!" he exclaimed, "you've been in a good many 
battles, I suppose?" 

"Wall, not many," I replied. "I've served mostly 
under Dick Taylor and Breckenridge, and haven't fit much 
'cept skirmishin'. Jist been fight in* up in the valley 
right smart." 

"Ah! were you in that battle? Well, the Yankees 
rather got the best of ye there, didn't they?" 

" Yaas, they used us pretty rough," I answered. " We 
got licked, and no mistake ; but the Yanks was three to 
our one." 

"Yes, I suppose they were," he replied. "Where's 
your regiment? " 

" Wall," I answered, " thar aren't much on it left, and 
most of them are on extra duty, or some detail or other, — 
clerks or wagoners, or some sich. You see, as the Yanks 
hold our State, we don't git no recruits." 

' ' Well how do the Yanks treat the folks down in 


" Oh ! as wall as you could expect in war-times from 
such a blasted thievin' set. The Yanks are a pack of 
thieves anyhow." 

"That's so!" he replied. "Have you heard the news 
from Danville ? ' ' 

"No," I answered: "I've just come down from the 
valley, and haven't heard much." 

" They're making the Yanks work on the intrench- 
ments," he said. " They licked a Yank nigger to death 
there the other day for not working. He said he wouldn't 
work. They said they'd whip him until he did. He 
wouldn't, and they whipped him until he died. And I 
think they served him right; don't you?" 

I felt like springing on the old scoundrel, but, after a 
moment's hesitation, said, "Yaas: they must be kept un- 
der." This seemed to satisfy him. We conversed some 
time longer; and he asked me about the cultivation of 
sugar-cane and the making of sugar. I told him what 
little I knew about it, which was much more than he 
knew. He then "wanted to know what part of Louisiana 
I came from ; and I told him from about twelve miles west 
of Franklin, — Bayou Teche County. 

He then asked if I thought there would be a frost the 


coming night. He feared his tobacco would spoil ; and, if he 
thought there would be one, he would set his hands to 
work, notwithstanding it was the Sabbath, — their regular hol- 
iday. I told him I thought it too windy for a frost ; not 
caring, of course, whether there was one or not, except that 
perhaps I would have preferred to have had his tobacco 
spoiled. He asked what I thought about the Northern elec- 
tion ; and I answered that I didn't agree with the mass of 
the people on that subject, and thought Lincoln would be 
elected. " And so do I," said he. 

He had seated himself, and I thought he would never go. 
I had slipped off my jacket while talking with him, and put 
it on again wrong side out, and asked him in a careless way 
if he thought it would hurt the cane-seed to lie on it. He 
said no, he did not think it would. "Well," I said, "I 
reckon I'll take a nap ; " and I flung myself down in a very 
exhausted manner. 

"I reckon you are pretty tired," he said. "Yes," I 
answered, " very. " — " Are your feet very sore ? " — " Yes, 
I am in a bad way with my feet ; but I reckon I kin get ter 
Danville without much trouble." I didn't say any thing 
more ; and presently he rose, and said he reckoned he would 
go out and look at his tobacco. 


When he was finally gone, I got down from the loft and 
watched him. He crossed the road, and went over into a 
field, but not quite out of sight : soon he came back, and I 
climbed up on the platform again. He looked in at the 
door ; but I was very soundly asleep, and did not hear him. 
Apparently satisfied, he went off toward the house; but 
before he got there I was out of the barn, and well out of 
the way. I walked on the top of the road-fence for some 
distance to balk the scent of dogs, and then scouted back 
through the woods to the other side of the farm ; for the 
negro was to bring my clothing that evening, and I wanted 
to see about some other things which the man Justin had 
suggested. I was near the Dan River, and, in conversations 
with this man, had ascertained that the town of Weldon 
was on the Roanoke River, into which the Dan emptied. I 
knew that a railroad ran from Weldon to Petersburg, and 
thought, if I could reach the former place, I should not 
miss my way nor waste ail my energy, as I had done, 
in a fruitless search for the right road. Justin had told me 
I might get a chance to go down the river on a boat ; and 
that he knew of one, the owner of which would be glad to 
help me. 

Justin's cabin had been pointed out to me the night I went 


to Bunyan's ; and, when it was fully dark, I went to it. We 
were expecting Bunyan to come there. He was not there ; 
but Justin was, and received me very cordially. He told me 
that the boat he had in mind would start down the river ear- 
ly in the morning, and, about midnight, suggested that some- 
thing should be done towards changing my Union for Rebel 
regimentals. He had a pair of homespun trousers, nearly 
new, which he gave me in place of my worn blue ones, and a 
coat which would answer the emergency, but had nothing in 
the way of a hat or a cap. The vizor was gone from mine, 
however ; and it would not be likely to betray its character. 

When I was finally dressed in the new toggery, Justin 
gave me a sash for my waist, and, with a gleeful exclamation, 
declared my disguise perfect. Filling then my pockets with 
bread and sweet-potatoes, and wishing me all kinds of good 
luck, he and his family bade me good-by. 

The boat was at the ferry at the town of Milton, N.C., 
about five miles distant. Justin gave me full directions how 
to find it ; and, as the moon was shining brightly, I had a 
very pleasant walk : but, when I reached the river, I found it 
covered with a dense fog, which hid the opposite bank, and 
all but a narrow strip of the water. Nothing was on this 
side but an old sunken skiff. I hallooed several times, but 


no one answered ; and, it being very cold and damp, I cast 
abont for some shelter. A shanty stood on the river bank, 
but it was locked ; and so I started back on the road to find 
some place into which I might crawl, and sleep until day- 

The moon had by this time set, and it was quite dark. 
Walking a mile, I came to a branch road ; but going upon it, 
and finding no shelter, I hurried back in disgust, and, 
again taking to the ferry-road, went on a little farther. Soon 
seeing something large and black over in a field, I climbed 
the fence, and found a rick of cornstalks. They were 
stacked very compactly, and I could not make a hole large 
enough to get into, but did the best I could, and lay just 
long enough to ascertain that I should freeze if I remained a 
minute longer. I then rose, and, as soon as my legs grew 
limber, started back into the road. 

The air was very cold, and a thick white frost covered 
every thing. Going a short distance farther, I came to some 
houses, and, walking in quietly among them, saw smoke and 
sparks coming from the chimney of a cabin. I went to the 
door, and knocked ; was admitted, and made love to the fire 
immediately. Five negroes, three men and two women, were 
in the room, — a man and his wife sitting by the fire, the 


rest lying in bed. It was curious ; but one of the men 
was the boatman I was in pursuit of. He told me the 
boat was going only a few miles down the river, and that it 
was hardly worth my while to go with them ; but I might 
do so if I chose. I was tired with waiting, and determined 
to go as far as they went, and then strike out on my own 
responsibility : so, when he went down to the river, I went 
with him. After a while, his comrade came : he was a smart, 
sensible fellow ; and I took a liking to him at once, which I 
had not done to the other. 

It was now sunrise, and the fog had begun to clear away. 
George, the new-comer, advised me to wait until the next 
Friday or Saturday, when he should go down to Welclon, 
a hundred and eighty miles, and would take me all the way, 
and provide me with food. He thought I had better go back 
to Justin's cabin, that being a quiet place, which the planter 
did not often visit. I decided to do as he recommended, 
and, to give my disguise a trial, went by daylight. 

October tenth. — I met a good many negroes on the road, 
and a few white people ; and a smart young darky, coming 
along with a fast mule-team, asked me to ride. I jumped 
into his wagon ; and soon a large red-faced man, on a power- 
ful horse, rode by. Raising -ray cap, I said " Good day" in 


the most approved Southern style ; and the man returned 
the salutation very graciously. The negro told me he was a 
bitter rebel by the name of Carnigan, a planter from Vicks- 
burg, whence he had been driven by Grant with the loss of 
all his slaves and other property. 

Soon afterward we passed a house, on the porch of which 
were several white men with rifles. Some horses, with arms 
slung to their saddles, were tied at the gateway. The men 
sprang up when they caught sight of me ; but as we rode by 
at a rapid pace, and I appeared unconcerned, they settled 
down again. I was not unconcerned, however ; and, as soon 
as we came to a piece of woods, I jumped from the wagon, 
and took to cover, being of opinion they would follow me as 
soon as they had thought the matter over. I told the negro 
I was going to Danville, which was a good excuse for leaving 
the wagon. 

Shaping my course for the plantation, I went on as far as 
appeared to be prudent, and then laid down under a zig-zag 
fence, and slept long and quietly. At night I went to Jus- 
tin's cabin. He and his wife were surprised, but delighted, 
to see^me. He consented to let me sleep in his cabin of 
nights, and proposed to give me a piece of bread every day. 
I laid down on a coat which he spread before the fire, and, in 


spite of the vigorous attacks of an army of " clinkers," slept 
soundly until daybreak. 

In the morning I went out to my place under the fence, 
broke off pine-tips for a carpet, and arranged brush to con- 
ceal my snuggery from any but prying eyes. It was very 
tedious lying there under the fence, and it seemed that the 
sun never would set. I had to lie quietly ; for on all sides 
people were passing, and in front of me, across a ravine, a 
plantation was in plain sight. 

October twelfth. — This day was as quiet and as tedious 
as the previous one. In the course of it, I dug some sweet- 
potatoes from the patch of the planter, and at night roasted 
them at the fire of his slave. 

October thirteenth. — This day was as void of incident as 
yesterday, except that I had a caller. While lying flat on 
my back, I heard a rustling near by, and, raising myself on 
my elbow, saw a large, vicious-looking snake crawling through 
the fence, not a yard from my head. He had crept through 
before he saw me, but then, stopping instantly, lifted his head, 
and glared at me with his large black and brilliant eyes. I 
returned his rather impolite gaze; but he stared me *out of 
countenance ; and I lay down again in disgust, keeping an 
eye on him. He did not move a hair's-breadth for two mortal 


hours. I tired of his impudence at last, and tried to make 
him move by throwing chips at him. I imagined he was 
Petersburg, and shelled him vigorously ; but, though I hit 
him once or twice, he did not so much as wink. I could 
see signs of temper now and then in a slight flattening of 
his head, and a more fiery glare of his eyes ; but he did not 
move an inch, only kept his ugly eye fixed on mine. At 
last, near sunset, I heard him moving : he went off, keeping 
on his original course very slowly, and not taking his eyes 
from me untirl he was yards awcy. At night I described 
him to the negroes ; and they said he was a " highland moc- 
cason," and deadly poisonous. I did not attempt to kill him, 
because I might have exposed myself by rising ; and why he 
did not return my attack, I cannot conjecture. 

October fourteenth — This day passed somewhat like the 
day before ; only my caller was a huge hog, whom I could 
not persuade to stop long. I did not go to sleep, lest I 
might wake and find my friend of yesterday in too close 
proximity. Most snakes like to snuggle to something warm ; 
and Monsieur Moccason might taste of me if I should dis- 
turb him too rudely. 

At night I went to the cabin to take a final leave of my 
friends. The negroes had killed and nicely cooked a 

ESCAPE. 101 

chicken for my journey. I bade them good-by with feel- 
ings in which regret was mingled, and once more started for 
the ferry. Arriving at the house where I had before seen the 
boatman, I learned that the boat had not as yet come up 
the river ; but they expected it in the morning : so I staid 
there all night. 

October fifteenth. — In the morning, a mulatto girl named 
Mattie took me to a barn, in the loft of which was a parcel 
of corn-husks. The barn was not used for stock, and the 
negroes thought it would be a good hiding-place ; and, when 
the boatmen came, they would tell them where I was, and 
send them to me. I remained in the barn all day, and to- 
wards night saw the two boatmen coming towards it ; but 
several white children, and a white man on horseback talking 
with the children, were in the road directly opposite, and I 
could not show myself to the negroes without being seen by 
the white man. One of the men went to the house, and 
the other — the one I did not particularly fancy — sat down 
by the roadside. The white man rode away, and then the 
children began talking to the negro. I came down from the 
loft, and, when the children were not looking, waved my cap 
to the man. He saw me, and motioned me back out of 


sight. I bid myself, hoping he would, as soon as the chil- 
dren went away, come to me. 

Keeping watch of him, I soon saw the other man come 
out of the house, and join him in the road, and knew by his 
looks that he did not say any thing to the other of my being 
there, for fear he might turn back, and attempt to speak to 
me. He did not wish me any harm, but was afraid he 
might get into trouble by aiding me. 

When night came, I went to the cabin, and asked the 
negroes what they had said ; but they were all away when 
the men called, and had not seen them at all. I felt some- 
what disheartened ; but, ascertaining from Mattie that the 
boatmen lived where I had passed the armed men on the 
porch, I determined to go there and see them, although it 
was four miles away. Going first to the ferry, and finding 
the boatmen not there, I about-faced, and started for the 
house. A bright moon was shining, and objects were 
plainly visible ; and, when I had gone about half a mile, two 
white men came right upon me. One of them, in passing, 
said, "Seen anybody down to the ferry?" I answered, 
" No, I haven't seen anybody," rather quickly, and without 
the Southern drawl which I had thus far practised. I kept 

ESCAPE. 103 

on my way ; and, after a moment's hesitation, they kept on 

A brisk walk in the moonlight brought me to the house. 
The lights were not yet out in the mansion ; but, going 
to the negro cabins, — making a circuit without being seen, 
— I found George, the boatman, who to my great disap- 
pointment told me he was not going clown the river. The 
load he had been engaged to carry had been given to 
another boat at a lower price. " He certainly should go 
down soon ; but it might be in two weeks, or it might be in 
a month." I inquired if he knew of any canoe I could 
get; and, after a few minutes' hesitation, he said that he 
did, and told me to go down to the ferry, and halloo for 
John Randolph, who was in a boat on the farther side. 
Randolph would give me a canoe, and also tell me all about 
the navigation of the river. George then gave me some 
warm corn-bread, and told me to tell Randolph to make me 
more. I thanked him warmly, for I felt I was making a 
long stride towards liberty, and with light and happy steps 
started for the ferry. 

There I called " John Randolph " several times; and at 
last he came across in his boat. Instantly I felt a respect 
for him, which was not at all lessened on further acquaint- 


ance. He was a free negro, and commander of the boat. 
"George" was his right-hand man, and the other — 
" Aleck" — was his left, and a poor left at that, and there- 
fore only occasionally used. 

John was a fine-looking fellow, of about medium size, but 
well-formed and vigorous. His features were finely cut, his 
eyes piercing, and his whole appearance indicated true man- 
hood. I told him every thing; and he said that two men 
who crossed the ferry not long before had told him they met 
a Yankee back on the road, whom they would have captured 
had he not been armed to the teeth. They were the two 
Confederate soldiers, and there was some truth in what they 
said, — my only weapon being an eating-knife. John said 
the town was in quite a panic, and thought itself already half 

He soon bestirred himself to make the bread, while I sat 
under the canvas of the boat. Leaving the bread on the 
fire, he told me all about the river, with which he was very 
familiar. I listened attentively, and repeated after him what 
he said, until I'felt sure of not forgetting it. 

I was to travel only by night. There were several bad 
falls in the river, which would bother me a good deal. John 
gave me instructions how to pass them, and advised my 

ESCAPE. 105 

stopping at a plantation belonging to a widow lady some 
distance below, and finding a colored man of the name 
of Jenkins, who would tell me more of the river, and 
furnish me with more food if I was in need of it. I was to 
watch the right bank of the river for a bold projecting ledge, 
immediately opposite to which I should find a canoe-landing, 
and a path leading to the plantation, which was about half 
a mile inland. About a hundred and twenty miles down the 
river, at Taylor's Ferry, was a negro named Goler. I must 
not trust him. He was a " mean cuss." He had betrayed, 
a party of United-States soldiers who had stopped at his 
house to rest. He went out on pretence of getting some- 
thing for them to eat, and brought instead a party of Con- 
federate soldiers. 

We conversed on a great many topics, and he showed 
great good sense on all. I asked him why he did not escape 
to the North ; and his answer was, that his wife and children 
could not accompany him, and he could not leave them. 
After conversing a while, he returned to the fire to see if the 
cakes were done. They were ; and, washing off the ashes, 
he gave them to me, remarking that he wished he had 
some meat also, but that it was a scarce article in ''them 
parts." He then set out to find the canoe. It was not 


where he thought it; but, going farther down, we came 
to a creek, a few rods up which two boats were fastened to 
the shore. They were both "dug-outs," and one of them 
was a very large one. John advised me to take the larger 
one, although it had a hole in each end, because it was so 
wide it would not upset easily. Afterwards, when in the 
fierce rapids, I had reason to commend his judgment. He 
mentioned several places on the river where Rebel guards 
were stationed for the very purpose of arresting men like 
myself. They would be the only great obstacle in my way; 
and, if I could elude them, I need anticipate little other 
difficulty. Barksdale Depot, South Boston, Myrie Creek, 
and a few other places, were the only points guarded ; and 
it was possible to get by them, and that possibility gave me 
assurance of success.. 



HE soon had the canoe ready ; and putting in a long 
setting-pole, a scoop to bail out water, and a long 
paddle, he told me to sit on the extreme end. I entered 
it and took the seat, but was obliged to move forward, as the 
water poured in at the hole, which was large enough to put 
my head through. Moving a little forward, however, I 
brought the lower edge of the hole just out of water. 
Another hole, of about the same size, was in the bow ; but 
it was not quite so low down, and did not give me any 
trouble. I had never paddled in my life, but had read of 
canoe trips, and remembered that a canoe is kept on a 
straight course by a twist of the paddle as it leaves the 

It was about midnight when I bade good-by to the noble 
colored man. He stood on the bank, looking after me, and 
wishing me all good fortune. Trying the experiment of 
iling, I soon got the knack, and propelled the great 


unwieldy boat with steady strokes, making it glide through 
the water at a rapid rate. A bright moon was shining, 
and I went along finely. 

About eight miles below was Barksdale Depot, where 
I had escaped from the cars, and where John told me was 
a Rebel guard. Paddling about an hour and a half, I came 
to the island which divides the river just above this depot, 
and, passing to the right, soon saw the station-house. 
Bearing to the shore, and tipping the canoe, so the side 
towards the depot was wet, and of the same color as the 
river, I lay down in the bottom, with my arm hanging 
over the side, and trailing the paddle in the water. The 
moon cast a dark but narrow shadow close under the bank, 
and my safety might depend on keeping within this shadow. 
To do that, it was necessary to trail the paddle, and by 
quick, vigorous, but perfectly noiseless movements, keep the 
canoe headed straight down the river; and also to avoid 
any snags or outstretching branches. 

Using the utmost caution, I glided down to the depot 
slowly, and in perfect quiet. I could see in the indistinct 
moonlight shadowy forms on the bank, and could hear 
voices in low converse a little below the station-house. 
Directly opposite where I first escaped was an eddy, into 


which the canoe entered, and for a time scarcely moved. 
I was still in view of the persons on the bank; and, if 
the eddy should whirl the canoe out into the stream, they 
would surely observe me. Dipping the paddle-blade 
deep down, I gave a strong pull; then, turning the edge 
of the paddle down stream, slid it forward, and gave 
another strong, noiseless pull. The boat obeyed the 
command, and started gently forward, and, after ten or 
twelve rods of this kind of navigation, passed a bend in 
the river. Then I halted again, and rising, and resuming 
my paddle properly, kept on, feeling that I had made a 
long stride toward home, although only a few rods from 
the spot where I had escaped nearly two weeks before. 

The river ran very slowly for a long distance ; and, be- 
ing pretty well tired, I did not make much headway, — not 
so much as I thought. John had told me that the widow 
lived eight miles beyond Barksdale Depot ; and, after row- 
ing a long time, I began to look for the ledge of rocks 
he had mentioned. I saw ledges, but none that answered 
his description ; and I went on and on, but no canoe-land- 
ing appeared, and the cocks were already crowing.. At 
last the rosy flush of day lit the sky, and I decided to haul 
up into the first good place of concealment ; for I expected 


pursuit. The disappearance of the canoe, coupled with the 
fact of my being seen by the two whites, would, I thought, 
make a strong case against me. 

I watched the shore narrowly, and, just before the sun 
rose, came to a place which promised to hide me. A lux- 
uriant growth of willows was on the shore, some of them 
reaching far out over the river, and dipping into the water. 
Hauling the canoe in among these willows, I broke off a few 
of the branches, and, placing them along its sides as if they 
were growing there, concealed it completely from any but 
the sharpest eyes. Taking out my pieces of bread, I hid 
them in a willow stump, and then started back from the 
river to take some observations. 

No houses were in sight ; but I saw many cultivated fields 
with numerous belts and patches of wood. Passing through 
one of these belts, I came upon a tobacco-barn, and, on close 
inspection, found it empty. Near it were some ripe persim- 
mons, which proved quite a treat. Going on a little far- 
ther, I saw the chimneys of a house away off upon a hill, 
and, returning to see that my boat was safe, set out to 
reconnoitre the plantation. A shallow brook ran from the 
direction of the house ; and I followed it, except where it 


was too open, passing a granite quarry of as good and clear 
stone as I ever saw. 

Coming to the house, I scouted along the farther side of 
the brook in a little strip of bushes until I came to a road 
running parallel with the river. Waiting here a few minutes, 
I saw a young negro coming down the lane with some horses. 
He stopped at the brook, watered the horses, and was turn- 
ing to go back, when I whistled to him. He knew enough 
to make no demonstration, and, quietly turning about, 
fastened his horses, and came to where I was. I knew I 
could trust him, and did so. 

He said the widow's place was about three miles farther 
down the river. He asked if I was hungry, and, on my 
saying I wanted provisions, went back to the house, and 
brought me some food. Telling him to be " mum," I bade 
him good-by, and returned to the river. I found the canoe 
all right ; and feeling very tired in body, and easy in mind, 
lay down in a cornfield near the river, — but not near 
enough to be seen, — and had a quiet sleep. I slept until the 
afternoon, and awoke much refreshed. Then I took a lunch 
of bread and water, and, after a good wash in the river, felt 
" as good as new." While we were encamped near Fisher's 
Hill, just after my capture, one of my men gave me a comb; 


and, when I came out of the water, I combed my hair with 
it, and had a quiet laugh all to myself, thinking of the stun- 
ning toilets of some of my gentlemen friends at home. 

Feeling somewhat restless, I soon set out on a scout down 
the river, and, going about a mile, could see at least a mile 
farther. No houses were in sight ; and it occurred to me 
that I might safely set out before nightfall : so, putting my 
things back into the boat, I pushed out into the stream. 

The afternoon was beautiful ; and, if I had not been so 
pre-occupied, I should have enjoyed the trip exceedingly. 
As it was, I was not entirely blind to the beauty of the 
scenery. The long, bright curves of the river reflected 
faithfully the rocks, trees, and wooded hills on its banks, all 
aflame with the gorgeous hues of autumn ; and above, the 
bright sun, the golden, fleecy clouds, and the far-off, beautiful 
blue, combined to form a picture I shall never forget. I 
could not realize there could be war in such a beautiful 
place ; but reason told me that any one of those grand old 
trees or rocks might hide an enemy, whoso greatest joy 
would be my death. 

I rowed along, all my senses on the alert, and, going 
about two miles, went on shore to reconnoitre. I could 
hear the roar of falls below, and thought it best to see if 


there were any houses near the bank. Pulling the canoe 
under the overhanging branches of a weeping-willow, I crept 
up the left bank, and crawling through the high, dense 
weeds, saw a broad extent of country, and, half a mile 
away, the railroad, and the cars just passing towards Dan- 

I went down the bank, plunging along through the dense 
weeds ; but the trees were so thick, that I could get no good 
view of the river. I climbed one, which reached far out 
over the water; but a great many others reached out as far, 
and I could see nothing but the swift current boiling and 
surging below. Making my way back, I found my boat so 
well hidden, that I had difficulty in finding it myself. I de- 
liberated whether to go on or not, but finally concluded to 
lie down, and try to get another nap. After a while, I heard 
voices and an occasional shot. They were sportsmen, shoot- 
ing birds, and, had I gone on, might have shot game I 
should not have relished. 

After a iLle, the sun set ; and, as soon as it was fully 
dark, I started. The canoe bounded along in the swift cur- 
rent, and such quantities of water came in through the holes 
that it was well-nigh water-logged ; but, after a while, I 
pulled up in a quiet place, and repaired damages. A little 


farther on, I came to other rapids; but they were not as 
fierce as the first. Going about a quarter of a mile in these 
rapids, I came to an immense, overhanging ledge, which 
I thought was the one John Randolph had spoken of, and, 
looking to the left, could distinguish something like boats 
fastened to the right bank. I almost despaired of crossing 
the current in my great bungling ark, and had half a mind 
not to make the attempt ; but things ahead looked so very 
squally and indefinite, that I at last started. 

For about ten minutes I strained every muscle, and made 
not a rod of headway, though the water foamed from the 
strokes of the paddle, and the canoe reeled and tumbled 
about like a drunken man ; but at last I reached the 
right bank, and got a view up the river for two or three 
rods beyond the boat-landing. Clinging to the shore a few 
minutes to get breath, I started again, and, as the current 
was not quite so rapid under the bank, reached the landing 
with comparative ease. Springing out, I fastened the boat, 
and, taking my treasure of bread in my hand, started up 
the bank in a well-beaten path which apparently lea to the 
widow's plantation. 

Going about half a mile, and crossing the railroad on the 
route, I came to a grove of trees, and, following the path 


around its farther side, found a quantity of barns, sheds, and 
straw-stacks, and, a little farther on, some buildings which 
looked like negro-cabins. Only one of them showed signs 
of life ; but from the door of that a bright light was shining 
far out into the thick darkness. A high fence was between 
it and myself; and climbing it, and approaching nearer, I 
obtained a good view of the house. I did not like its looks. 
It seemed too good for negroes, and not good enough for 
white people ; but, stepping very lightly, I went right up to 
the door, and tried to see who was in it. I could see no 
one, but could hear dishes rattling as if persons were eating. 
On some pegs, near the door, straw-hats, sun-bonnets, and 
similar articles, were hanging. 

Not satisfied with this inspection, I started to go round 
the house, hoping to discover some windows ; and, as I start- 
ed, a little bit of gravel crunched under my foot, and a dog 
inside set up a most hideous howling. I was too near to 
run : so, putting a bold face on the matter, I walked up 
to the door, and rapped. A loud voice, unmistakably white, 
asked, " Who's thar ? What do you want ? Who be ye ? " 

I walked in, and saw a large, powerful man sitting at a 
table, and said to him, " You didn't ask me to come in; 
but I will, and tell you what I want." 


I told him I was on my way to News Depot, but, coming 
across the country to shorten the distance, had got lost, and 
would be much obliged if he would direct me. I imitated 
the Southern dialect as well as I could, and the man seemed 
unsuspicious of my true character. He went to the fence 
with me, and pointed down the path up which I had come, 
as the way to News Depot. I knew it as well as he, but, 
pretending to be greatly relieved, thanked him, and started 
off. When I reached the top of the hill, — twenty rods 
or more from the house, — I paused, but kept my feet in 
motion as if still walking. Gradually I made less and less 
noise, and, when it was time to be out of hearing, stopped 
altogether. I did this to keep an eye on the movements of 
the man, who might be bent on mischief. He re-entered 
the house, and did not come out of it again : so I concluded 
that all was right, and walked forward on tip-toe until really 
out of hearing. 

I found the boat safe where I had left it. The moon had 
just risen ; but a dense fog covered the river, and the air 
was cold and wintry. I thought I would not start until the 
moon was higher, and laid down in the boat to rest a while : 
but it was too cold and damp to sleep ; and at last I got up, 


and went inland to see if I could not do better than I did 

I had seen a tobacco-barn standing in the open field, on 
the right of the path leading to the railroad, and decided to 
have a nearer look at it. I found it empty, and the appar- 
ent resort of cattle. I laid down in a corner on the ground : 
but the cold was too much for me, ill-fed as I was ; and I 
came near shivering myself to pieces. I bore it as long as 
I could, and then started out to see if I could not find 
warmer lodgings. 

Another barn was a short distance off; but, on going to it, 
I found it quite as comfortless as the other ; and, scouting 
around a while longer, I concluded to make another trial at 
the plantation. Taking a little path which turned off to the 
left, and following it some time, I came upon a log-stable. It 
was not far from the overseer's house, and I was careful not 
to make any noise. I tried to find some negro-cabins ; but 
gave up the search at last, and climbed into the stable. It 
was locked below, but had an open door aloft, up to which 
I clambered by the chinks in the logs. A quantity of rye- 
straw was in one corner : I snuggled into it, and, being very 
tired, soon fell into a deep slumber. 

I was awakened by sounds below, and, looking out, saw 


that day was breaking. Only one man was there, and his 
voice indicated that he was a negro. Climbing down, I 
met him as he came out of the stable. I told him who I 
was, and asked if that was not the widow's plantation. 
He said it was. I then inquired if there was such a man 
there as Jenkins. He answered "Yes," and pointed to a 
grove on a little hill, at a short distance, as the place where 
I should find him ; telling me at the same time to hurry, as 
the overseer would soon be stirring. I hastened to the 
grove, from whence came a great noise of bellowing and 
shouting, as of many cattle being herded ; and found a num- 
ber of negroes — men, women, and children — driving a 
large number of cattle into an enclosure. Accosting an old 
woman, T asked if Jenkins was there. She pointed to a 
rather elderly negro, and ran away, as if very much afraid, 
not of me; but of being seen talking with me. I went to the 
man, and was about accosting him, when a large dog flew 
at me, and bit my knee severely. I shook oif his grip, 
and held him ; while I told the astonished and somewhat 
frightened negro who I was in as few words as possible. His 
first care, after driving away the dog, was to get me out of 
sight as soon as possible. 

Three cabins were near, and one of them was apparently 


a tool-shop and general storehouse. The negro took me to 
the nearest one, where a family lived, but in a few mo- 
ments escorted me to the tool-shop. Several men slept in it 
of nights ; and a fire was smouldering on the hearth, which 
I was cautioned not to increase. Stopping a few minutes, 
and plying me with questions, the negro left, for fear the 
overseer might notice his absence. 

After a while, a tidy old negress, accompanied by a 
good-looking girl of sixteen or eighteen, came in, bringing 
a pitcher of excellent milk, some very good hot biscuit, and a 
large piece of fresh butter. The old woman was very ner- 
vous, and wanted to go away immediately ; but the young 
one lingered, asking an occasional question in a timid way, 
until the older one insisted vehemently on her going. I en- 
joyed the breakfast greatly, and, after concealing the dishes, 
lay down on a blanket for a nap. 

Several negroes then came in, making a great show of se- 
crecy, and telling me not to be " afeard," as they would not 
betray me on any account. They all asked many intelligent 
questions, which I answered to the best of my ability ; but 
they did not stop long, lest the overseer should miss them. 
They said he had told them of a man, who he suspected was 
not all right, coming to his house the night before, and 


inquiring the way to News Depot; but, if the man would 
. let him (the overseer) alone, he would let the man alone. I 
asked how they liked their mistress and the ^verseer ; and 
they spoke very well of both. The overseer, they said, 
was an easy-going man, and they could fool him readily, 
but had just as lief work as not. In spite of this, how- 
ever, they were the most eager for freedom of any slaves I 
had seen; but I soon discovered they were all religious, 
though they made no parade of it. The young girl who had 
brought my breakfast soon returned with another girl ; but, 
after a few confidential giggles, they retired, and no one came 
again until afternoon. Then the old woman, accompanied 
by the girl, brought me a delicious apple-pudding and some 
hot corn-bread. I made a good dinner, and had a quantity 
left, which I dried on the hearth to carry away with me. 

After dark a negro came in, and asked me out to one of 
the cabins. It was a neat, large shanty, with a very pleasant 
room ; and its mistress, an old negress, looked and spoke 
very much like an old Quaker lady. Her son, a great jovial 
fellow of about twenty, had a spelling-book, and seemed 
from his actions to wish me to know the extent of his learn- 
ing. I took the book, which opened of itself to the lesson 
commencing with "Baker," and found* he knew the whole 


page when I asked him the words in regular succession; 
but he failed a few times when I skipped about. He was 
as black as a coal ; but there was something really good and 
noble about him. • In speaking of the Rebels, I made use of 
a somewhat strong expression ; and, in the gentlest manner, 
he asked if the " good Book " taught us to speak so of our 
enemies. I took the rebuke in good part, and, with a feel- 
ing of mixed shame and amusement, acknowledged that he 
was right. After that, I was very careful to keep on my 
best company manners. A looking-glass was in the room ; 
and, for the first time in about two months, I saw the reflec- 
tion of myself. I was not a little amused at the appearance 
of the individual who confronted me. 

I sat by their fire about an hour, conversing on various 
topics ; and then " Jordan " came in, and invited me to go to 
another house. I bade them all good-by except the young 
man, whose name was Sam. He went with us. We 
stopped at the shop to get my pieces of bread, and then, by 
a roundabout route to avoid the overseer, went to the cabin, 
or house; for it deserved the latter name. It was a story and 
a half high, had glass windows, and was furnished generally 
in good style. Entering it, I saw several men; and the 
sight of one of them made me for the moment think I was 


betrayed. I turned to fight my way out : but the kindly, 
amused looks of the negroes re-assured me ; and, as I hesi- 
tated, the man in question — who was as white as I am, and 
dressed in a Confederate uniform — took off his hat, and 
bade me good-evening in a manner which at once satisfied 
me that he was a slave. A poor white he certainly was not ; 
he was too well-bred and good-looking for one of that class : 
and I concluded, and afterwards learned it was true, that he 
was the son of the deceased planter by a quadroon house- 

The negroes had prepared me an excellent supper. The 
bill of fare, as near as I can recollect, was as follows, — 
large piece of boiled beef, flanked by common and sweet 
potatoes ; large piece of pork, flanked by cabbage ; fresh 
biscuit and butter ; pitcher of milk, and some wheat-coffee ; 
pitcher of syrup, and some genuine Yankee gingerbread ; 
also an apple-pie. 

I ate heartily, the negroes looking on, and enjoying my 
evident satisfaction ; and, after supper, the real business for 
which I was there was attended to. Three or four men con- 
ducted me into an up-stairs room, whose appearance sur- 
prised me. A mahogany desk such as teachers use in our 
schools, covered with books and writing materials, several good 


chairs, and a neat bedstead, were only a part of its furni- 
ture. A quantity of good clothing was hanging about, and 
among it I noticed a military coat. The white negro, seeing 
my curious glances, took it down, and handed it to me. It 
was of very fine blue cloth, its breast and skirts covered 
with gold braid and lace, and altogether was as rich a 
garment as I had ever seen. It had been the pride of the 
planter in his younger days, when he was a captain in the 
United-States navy, and by him had been given to his slave 
son who stood before me. 

I sat down to the desk, and after a few moments' conver- 
sation, they supplying pencil and paper, commenced taking 
down what information they could give me. They told me 
much that had been told me by John Randolph, and add- 
ed a few particulars, which I wrote down, while they 
looked over my shoulder, uttering exclamations of admira- 
tion and pleasure at what they thought the ease, rapidity, 
and finish of my writing. They desired me to write some 
words in a blank-book which they had. I did so, and then, 
in as good a hand as I could, wrote my name and address, 
and requested them to write to my relatives if they ever had 
the opportunity, or to show the paper to such United-States 
soldiers or officers as might come that way. This they prom- 


ised to do very cheerfully. The following is a verbatim copy 
of the memorandum I made on the occasion : — 

1 . Widow plantation. 

2. Two 2 miles to island, bear to right, 20 feet, 100 yds. 

to ferry. 

3. Three 2 miles to island, bear to left-hand bank. 

4. 1J miles to Myrie Creek. 

5. Three miles to South Boston. 

6. 6 Six miles to Slabtown, Banister River. 

7. 3 or 4 miles to Hicoe Falls. 

8. 15 miles to Clarksville. 

35 about. 

No. 2 means that at this place is a bad fall, the most 
dangerous part of which I should avoid by going to the 
right of an island by a channel twenty feet wide ; after 
which it would be about one hundred yards to News Depot, 
or ferry, where were Rebel soldiers. No. 3 indicates another 
Jbad fall to be avoided by going to the left of an island. No. 
4, a bridge over Myrie Creek, carrying the Richmond and 
Danville Railroad, and crossing very near the River Dan : a 
guard was stationed at this bridge, which I was to look out 
for. No. 5, a town on either side of the River Dan, and a 
high bridge crossing the river : a Rebel guard was also sta- 



tioned here to watch the river for just such fellows as 
myself, and for suspicious-looking negroes. No. 6, saw-mills 
on the river : the Banister empties into the Dan at this 
place. No. 7, very bad falls. The negroes thought I had 
better not try to pass them in my canoe ; but, if I could get 
by, it would be plain sailing beyond all the way to Clarks- 
ville. With the river below that point they were not 

At Clarksville the Staunton River joins the Dan, and the 
two form the Roanoke. There I should see the piers of a 
railroad bridge which had been destroyed. The only other 
bridge I should find was at Graston, a few miles below Wel- 
don. The negroes had seen my boat at the landing, and 
asked me where I got that " wonderful big canoe," and if it 
was possible I had brought it down river alone. On my 
assuring them I had, one exclaimed in unfeigned admira- 
tion, " Well, you is a man sure enuff! " 

I now intimated that it was time I was starting on my 
journey. They agreed with me, and we all went down 
stairs. They had provided me a large cotton bag filled 
with food, and an old blanket, which I afterwards found of 
great service. One had also made me a light paddle. Their 
cheerful words and thoughtful kindness so much encour- 



aged me, that home seemed, for the moment, almost in 

After a little more conversation, I bade them good-by; 
and they all wished me a hearty Grod speed. The young 
man Sam, and another young fellow as like him as possible, 
volunteered to accompany me to the boat. They took a 
roundabout way, carefully avoiding paths ; and were so 
happy, they could not walk soberly along, but jumped and 
capered about like two crazy colts, pulling up occasionally to 
say a low word to me, and then indulging in their wild antics 
again. I trudged along soberly, although I felt good all 
over, and would have liked a romp with them ; but it was 
best, I thought, to stand a little on my dignity. Our cir- 
cuitous route lengthened the half-mile to a mile, and a pretty 
rough mile at that ; and my clothes became so full of burrs, 
that I looked like a fine^quilled porcupine. The boys so- 
bered down after a while, and we conversed in low guarded 
tones. We spoke mostly of religious subjects, and they 
seemed to have broad and liberal ideas. One of them 
thought it not well to pay clergymen regular salaries. If 
the minister could not sufficiently impress his congregation 
to make them open their hearts and purses on the spot, he 
should take to some other business. He made this appear 


very reasonable ; but the world, just now, is not of his way 
of thinking. 

At last we arrived at the river. The full moon was just 
rising over the tall trees on the opposite bank, and casting a 
broad veil of silver over the rapid foam-streaked water. I 
looked down the dim curves of the river, and wondered 
whether its swift current was to carry me to death and an 
unknown grave, or to the friends who were longing and 
praying for me at home. I hoped for the best, and, sup- 
pressing all feelings of doubt and gloom, stepped into the 
canoe. As I did so, the noble boys said, "We's gwine to 
pray for you, massa." 

My heart choking so I could scarcely speak, I pushed off 
into the broad track of moon-silvered water ; but something 
within nerved my arms, and I felt strong enough to over- 
come all obstacles. As I receded rapidly from the shore, I 
turned and looked back. The boys were still on their knees, 
praying. Taking a long look at them, I set to work man- 
aging the canoe • for the river was rocky, and all my little 
skill was required to keep the canoe from being overturned. 

The boat glided swiftly along ; and I soon came within 
hearing of the falls, and, at the same time, heard a train of 
cars in the distance. The train came nearer and nearer, 



and presently stopped, and then went on again. I con- 
cluded the place where it stopped was News Depot, and 
began to look narrowly for the channel which should lead me 
past the falls. The river ran rapidly ; and all I had to do 
was to guide the boat, and keep near the right bank, so as 
not to be carried past the channel. I soon detected an 
opening ahead, and a few vigorous strokes ran the canoe into 
it; but in a moment it was thrown high and dry on the 
island by the fierce sweep of the current. 

Putting all my things into the bottom of the boat, I set it 
in motion again. Seeing it would be useless to attempt to 
guide so heavy a thing in such a current, I gave it a strong 
push, jumped in, and, crouching low down, resolved to let 
it go as it pleased. It went banging along against either 
shore, knocking against stumps, and plunging through 
masses of trailing willows, which dragged their slimy 
branches over me to my infinite disgust, but at last, after a 
very rough passage, came out into the broad river again. 
Then the thunder of the falls told me what I would have 
encountered had I gone the other way. 

I thanked my stars for having so well overcome that 
difficulty; but News Depot was in sight, and I had to run 
the gantlet of the Rebel guards. I had all along been 


thinking how I should get by such places, and had formed a 
good many plans. One of them was to sink the canoe, so 
it would look like a floating log, and, landing with my 
traps, to set it adrift, go down the opposite bank, and take 
my chance of getting it again below the depot. If the 
canoe had been lighter, I should have done this ; but con- 
sidering that both ends were stove in, and that, even if 
whole, it was too heavy for one person to manage, I con- 
cluded to risk passing the depot in it. Its color was light, 
almost white, as water-washed logs are apt to be; but I 
remedied this by splashing water all over its sides till it was 
quite as dark as the river. 

The moon cast a narrow shadow along the right bank; 
and, guiding the canoe into it, I lay down in the bottom, 
with my right arm hanging over the side, and trailing the 
paddle in the water. The depot was on the opposite shore, 
but now quite near ; and the noise of the fall was rapidly 
growing fainter. Arriving opposite the station, I saw two 
or three men standing beside a smouldering fire, and heard 
them speaking in low tones, but could not distinguish what 
they said. They were undoubtedly sentinels ; and the least 
noise — the grating of the canoe against a bush or a stump, 
or the slight scraping of the paddle against its sides — would 



have attracted their attention. At last, however, I got 
safely by; and a great load of anxiety lifted from my 
shoulders at the thought of these two serious obstacles so 
easily surmounted. 

According to the negroes, the next fall was two miles 
below, and I was to avoid it by hugging the left bank : so, 
after a while, I crossed the river, and made ready for another 
trial of my energies. As the boat wound along around the 
curves of the river, the fall I had passed would at times be 
wholly inaudible, and again would roar out as if it were 
after me, determined not to be cheated of a victim. 

After a while I heard the- falls ahead, and soon afterwards 
came to the passage. A mill had at some previous time 
been there, and parts of its walls and timbers were still 
standing. I got by this place easier than I expected, though 
the passage was difficult enough. As I went on, I was some- 
what puzzled ; for, though I watched closely for the main 
river, I did not see it again : but, half a mile below, the part 
I was in widened to the width of the main current. No 
doubt the part of the stream which went over the rough fall 
had divided into numerous small channels below, and re- 
turned to the main river. 

The next obstacle I was to surmount was Myrie Creek. 



■ I was close upon it before I saw it; but, luckily, I was 
making no noise, and, the bridge being a rod or more from 
the river, I was ,not very likely to be seen. 1» heard voices 
as I drifted by; but they were apparently only ordinary 
remarks. A fire was at one end of the bridge, and the sol- 
diers were probably there. I could not see them nor their 
fire, only its light reflected on the hill and bushes. I was 
very much elated at so successfully passing all these dan- 
gerous places, and began "to see my way through quite 

The next place to look out for was South Boston, where a 
covered bridge crossed the river. I remembered seeing it 
from my loop-hole in the car. The depot was on % the left 
banJ£, but the most of the town was -on the right. It was 
three miles from Myrie Creek : so I took things easily, and 
got along very comfortably. As I passed plantation after 
plantation, the bloodhounds would bay out with their deep 
mournful voices ; and they kept up the doleful music until I 
was some distance away. They were half a mile or more 
inland; but, though I made little noise, their keen scent 
or hearing warned them of my presence. 

Presently I came in sight of the bridge at Myrie Creek. 
It was a covered one, about thirty feet above the water, and, 


from a distance, appeared to spring across the river in a sin- 
gle span ; but, as I came nearer, I discovered it was sup- 
ported by fire or six stone piers. I adopted the same 
policy as at News Depot, and passed safely, although men 
were on the bank. 

The next point to be passed was Slabtown, which, accord- 
ing to the negroes, was six or seven miles below. I was 
very much fatigued, the excitement having worn on me 
much more than the work ; and, sitting down in the 
bottom of the canoe, I let it drift by itself, the negroes 
having told me that between South Boston and Hicoe Falls 
was a long stretch of quiet water. At last I fell asleep, and, < 
when I ajvoke, found the canoe drifting along stern foremost. 
. Rousing up, I paddled some ways', but, still feeling yery 
tired, soon laid down the oars : and from that time until 
morning was a confused period of drowsiness, dreary glimpses 
of slowly gliding woods, and dark quiet water; and then 
complete forgetfulness, varied by queer dreams. 

At last the cocks began to crow on the distant plantations, 
and not long afterwards came the first faint flush of daylight. 
I was in hopes I had passed Slabtown, as I wished to run 
the Hicoe Falls by daylight ; and, keeping all my senses on 
the alert, kept on. The scenery was bold and beautiful, 


and the sun rose smiling on the world. I breakfasted off 
the contents of my bag, which I now examined for the first 
time. I found in it, in addition to my former stock, three 
or four good biscuits, a nice piece of beef, and some gin- 
gerbread. I made a good meal, and felt invigorated, 
particularly after washing my face and combing my hair. I 
heard noisy water below, and, not knowing how rough it 
might be, pulled the canoe ashore, and walked down the 
bank about half a mile to reconnoitre. In one place, the 
river fell two feet perpendicularly ; but, marking the safest 
channel with my eye_, I went back, and re-embarked. I went 
through all right, with the exception of taking in some 
water; and, feeling sure this was not Hicoe Falls, still kept 
on the alert, and going about a mile farther, and hugging 
the right bank, saw signs of a ferry. 

A road came down to the river on the opposite shore, 
and on this I could see the outer ends of several canoes and 
flat-boats. I dropped down very quietly, so as to see before 
being seen. An old darky was standing by the canoes ; and 
near him was a younger one, and close to him a saw-mill. 
I watched the negroes, and, when I saw they had seen me, 
made gestures to them to be quiet, and at the same time 
asked by gestures who was in the mill, where I heard saw- 


ing and hammering. Tbey appeared very much frightened, 
and made frantic signs to me to keep on. I nodded, and 
did so. 

The mill had several windows j and my heart was in my 
mouth for fear some one should come to them. If they 
should, they would surely see me. No one came, however ; 
and I passed this danger, too, in safety. The younger 
negro followed me along the shore; and, when I arrived 
at a place of safety, I hauled in, and had a talk with him. 

The negroes knew very well what I was from my manner. 
I asked the boy where Slabtown was, hoping he would say 
two or three miles back ; but, with a comical look, he said I 
had just passed it. The saw-mill was Slabtown. I was 
surprised, and conceived a small opinion of Southern towns. 
Some one then appeared on the opposite bank, about half a 
mile away, wishing to be ferried over. The old man made 
signs to us, which, the boy said, meant I must drop farther 
down the river. I did so, keeping in among the overhang- 
ing willows, and, stopping again, had another chat with the 
darky. He advised me to hug the left bank until past the 
rapids, as white folks were likely to be at the main fall, 
which I had been directed to take. The nearer a man lived 
to a place, the more I thought he ought to know about it i 


so I concluded to follow this advice. I asked if there was 
any thing to look out for before reaching the fall ; and the 
darky said another mill was on the same side of the river, 
and that was all. I asked who was in the mill I had just 
passed ; and he said two white men, and both had guns ! 

Thinking the neighborhood rather unhealthy, I bade the 
boy good-by, and pushed off into the river. I crossed, a lit- 
tle lower down, a curve, which coucealed me from the mill, 
and, lower still, saw the other saw-mill. The river then 
widened to nearly a mile ; and I hoped, by keeping closely 
to the left bank, to pass unseen. I could distinguish two or 
three men standing by the great wheel of the mill; but 
they looked small and indistinct : so I paddled along coolly, 
that they might, in case they had a glass, see nothing sus- 
picious in my movements. 

I had gone about half a mile, when I heard peculiar 
sounds, like the far-off thump of oars, and, turning, saw 
a large boat emerging from the vicinity of the mill. It 
was too distant to distinguish who was in it ; but I had little 
doubt the men at the mill had seen and were pursuing me. 
The river at that point was very shallow ; and I could not 
reach the shore without abandoning the canoe, and wading 
some distance. This I did not like to do; for it would 


render suspicion certainty, and force me to abandon the boat 
in which I was making such good headway. 

I decided to paddle rapidly down stream until I came to a 
good landing, and then to haul up, and wait for develop- 
ments. My chance of escape on land would, of course, be 
much better than on water. I paddled with all my strength, 
making the water foam at the bow and sides of my clumsy 
friend ; but, as I was gliding swiftly along, I put a little too 
much muscle on the paddle, and it broke in two. My heart 
sunk ; for the other paddle was so clumsy, I could scarcely 
handle it. I tried it, however, and, putting forth all my 
strength, managed to keep the canoe along. Not far ahead 
was a rocky bluff; and there I determined to land. With 
great effort I reached the shore, and, hastily fastening the 
canoe, took my bread, and, climbing the steep banks, se- 
creted myself behind a tree, not so much to be out of sight, 
as to avoid any shot which might be sent after me. 

The boat drew rapidly nearer, and I eagerly scanned its 
crew and lading. A large pile of tobacco-boxes was along 
nearly its whole length. Two negroes were pushing it with 
poles; one rowing with great sweeps, and another steering 
with a long rudder. Seeing no white men on board, I hailed 
the negroes, and asked if any one had noticed me back at 


the mill, and if they were going to bother me. They an- 
swered no j but that I had better keep still, as soldiers were 
coming down on the next boat. This was startling informa- 
tion ; and I asked what the soldiers were in pursuit of. 
They answered, nothing ; only guarding the boat, which had 
powder aboard. I now took their advice, and kept still ; for 
the boat had been going all the time, and the negroes were 
out of hearing. 

Before long, I heard the next boat approaching rapidly. 
As it passed, I saw half a dozen soldiers lounging about, 
and the same number of negroes propelling the boat. They 
did not notice my canoe, and kept on about their business. 
When they were far enough away, I re-embarked, being 
determined to reach Hicoe Fall by daylight. It was, I 
thought, so near, it would be foolish to wait until night, and 
then go the short intervening distance, and wait again for 
daylight. I crossed over to the left bank, which I had all 
along avoided (the Richmond and Danville Railroad being 
on that side, and running close to the river for a long dis- 
tance) j because, if I had to leave my canoe, I purposed 
taking to the comparatively un travelled North-Carolina side. 
I knew, however, I must be below where the railroad left the 
river, and also remembered that the negro I had last seen 


told me I could better cross on the left side : so I crossed 
over. I had a great dread of the fall, and wanted to get 
the fullest information about it. Coming to some large 
canoes and flat-boats fastened to the shore, and seeing a path 
leading up over the bank, I landed to reconnoitre. Leaving 
my boat among the others, I went up the bank. It was 
thickly overgrown with high weeds ; and at its summit an 
immense cornfield spread out before me, in which twenty 
negroes, men and women, were at work gathering the ears. 
I made signs to them from the edge of the weeds ; and they 
saw me, but acted queerly. One young fellow started to 
come to me, and then went back again. Thinking they 
would come presently, I went down the bank to see if the 
boat was all right, and then returned, making some little 

The negroes were still at work in the field ; and, knowing 
there was some good reason why they had not answered my 
summons, I was on my guard, and, looking about the country 
as if very much interested in the landscape, suddenly caught 
sight of the most villanous-looking face I ever laid eyes on. 
It was a short, strong-looking man, with an immense grisly 
beard and wolfish gray eyes. I saw this in an instant, as 
I did not let my eyes rest on him, but pretended not to 


see him. He stood just in the edge of the weeds, and 
was watching me like a cat. Looking coolly about for a 
moment or two longer, and taking no more notice of the 
negroes or of the man than if they had been so many bushes, 
I started back to the canoe as if I had plenty of time, and 
nothing on my mind. I half expected every moment to 
feel a bullet in uncomfortable proximity with my ribs ; but, 
stepping into the canoe, I paddled off with an absent air. 
My aim was to disarm suspicion, and I must, have succeeded. 

The man was, no doubt, the overseer of the negroes, and, 
as he sat close to the bushes, probably did not see me until I 
came up the bank the second time. I did nothing at that 
time to betray my true character ; and he probably took it for 
granted that I was all right. I was little more than a rod 
from him ; but I governed my features so well, that he did 
not read them. The fact of the soldiers having just gone by 
in the boat probably aided me, as he would naturally sup- 
pose they had seen me. I felt very anxious, however, and 
momentarily expected to see that ugly face, backed by a 
rifle, peering through the bushes on the bank ; but I trusted 
to luck, and it did not fail me. 

I soon heard the roar of the falls, and prepared for a new 
and severe ordeal. Far down the river I saw a point of 


land, and concluded it was the head of the island, to the left 
of which I must go to avoid the most dangerous rapids. On 
drawing nearer, it proved to be what I thought, and soon 
afterwards I came to the passage ; but the point of the island 
still hid the other and main portion of the river. 

The sight was nco assuring. Far down as I could see, the 
river was boiling and leaping over the ragged rocks, which 
showed their black backs in a whirpool of tormented water. 
It was too late to retreat; and, bracing myself for the en- 
counter, I went on. I tried to guide the boat, but might as 
well have tried to guide a balloon. It went leaping and 
plunging along for a few minutes, and then was high on 
a rock, half full of water ; my bread and blanket swimming 
about its bottom like corked bottles in an ocean. 

I put my "traps" in the bow, which was comparatively 
dry, and then tried with the setting-pole to push the canoe 
off into the stream. It would not move an inch. I must 
have been a comical spectacle ; but I was really in a danger- 
ous predicament. I could not get ashore by wading or swim- 
ming : if I had attempted it, I should have been bruised to 
death in a moment on the ragged rocks. I could not remain 
where I was, and the only thing I could do I did. Strip- 
ping off all my clothing, and keeping a firm hold of the 


side of the canoe, I slid into the water, It was very cold, 
and chilled me through and through ; but I braced myself 
against the rock, and, lifting and heaving with all my 
strength, soon started the canoe a little. It was hung on a 
breaker three or four feet long, and just about in the centre, 
so that the water, rushing against either end, held it firmly 
braced in its position. I had to destroy its balance ; and 
then the preponderance of water on one end would carry it 
off into the current. I heaved again and again, and at last 
the boat began to swing slowly round. I sprang in ; and in 
another moment we were dashing and tumbling about again 
in the mad stream, and then — whack ! — were high and dry 
on another rock. Again I got the boat clear, and again it was 
fast. I was fearful that, notwithstanding its very thick bot- 
tom and sides, it would be smashed to atoms : but it was the 
only way ; and, after a moment's delay, I heaved it off 
again, first scooping out the surplus water. 

After a half a mile or more of this kind of navigation, I 
came at last into smooth water, and sat down completely 
exhausted, but very thankful. Resting a while, I wrung the 
water from my clothes, which were drifting about in the bot- 
tom of the canoe, and spread them out to dry. In a little 
while I put them on, though they were still uncomfortably 


wet. I thought then I was entitled to something to eat, 
and, opening my bag of provisions, made a hearty meal, feel- 
ing very happy that I had surmounted all the difficulties 
which had looked so formidable at the outset. 

As I had got along so well thus far in the daylight, I 
determined to keep on so as to pass Clarksville in the night- 
time. It was a beautiful day ; and, in spite of my fatigue, 
I enjoyed the journey. All along the river I had seen 
numerous flocks of wild-duck : but to-day they filled the air, 
and were continually flying out from the little sheltered coves 
in front of me ; some of them not taking the trouble to fly, 
but swimming off into mid-river. Large flocks of geese 
also passed up the river. They flew very low; and some of 
them, not observing me, came so near that I could see their 
eyes. When they observed me, they would sweep off with 
a loud whirr, but soon afterwards would return to the course 
of the river. If I had had a gun, I could have filled the 

The scenery was wild and beautiful ; and, as I saw but 
few signs of inhabitants, my mind was at ease, and I enjoyed 
it. I met two boats coming up. I put the width of the river 
between us ; but they were having hard work to make head- 
way against the stream, and were content to mind their own 


business. They made very slow progress against the rapid 
current. Placing a long pole firmly on the river bottom, 
the men walked from bow to stern ; the pole resting on 
their shoulders, and held firmly in their hands. Then they 
dragged the pole back to the bow, and repeated the process. 
As I floated easily along past them, I thanked my stars that 
I was not obliged to return up river. 

I had made rapid progress, and towards evening, seeing 
some houses on the right bank, concluded to pull up, and 
reconnoitre. It was about sunset. Ascending the right 
bank, I heard a boy calling cattle not far off. I could not 
see him ; and an open plain was between us, which it was not 
prudent to cross until after dark. A building was in sight ; 
but there were no signs of life about it. At last, it being 
sufficiently dark, I started out. The building proved to be 
a tobacco-barn, although it could not have been made for 
that purpose. It was empty, and therefore of no account 
to me. 

Scouting about, I soon came upon a cart-road, and, follow- 
ing it for half a mile, stumbled upon a grove of straw-stacks. 
I decided to go no farther, and, gathering a large armful of 
the straw, went back to my canoe. Putting the straw in the 
bows, I tried to get a nap, but, though very tired, could 


not get the town of Clarksville out of my head ; and at last 
decided to let the canoe drift down, and await developments. 
I dozed a little, and probably had gone a mile or more, when 
I heard voices on the left bank of the river. A cold gray 
fog was on the water, and nothing could be distinguished at 
a boat's-length. I pulled in towards the shore, and, drag- 
ging my canoe up on the land so it would stay fast, quietly 
climbed the bank! 

Near by were stables, cow-barns, and cabins; and the 
voices were evidently those of negroes at work in and near 
the stables. I walked about among the buildings; but, as it 
was dark, the negroes did not distinguish me from them- 
selves. Feeling satisfied that all was safe, I returned to the 
boat, and, fastening it firmly, went back to the buildings. 
I button-holed one of them, and, though he was somewhat 
astonished and frightened, made him understand who and 
what I was. I told him I was suffering from cold and 
fatigue, and wanted to get by a fire. He led me into a 
squalid cabin, where half a dozen negroes were crouching 
over the hearth. They were very poorly clad and degraded- 
looking; by far the worst I had seen in the South. They 
told me their master's name was Skipper, and that he was 
a very hard man. The place was an island, formed by a 


cut-off from the Dan into the Staunton River, which I had 
passed in the darkness. 

The negroes were not allowed to leave the island ; and one 
young fellow lay on the floor, sick from a severe whipping 
which he had received for going to Clarksville the previous 
Sunday. He showed me his back, still raw from the cuts of 
the lash. I was too weary to notice much, and what I 
remember of that night seems now some terrible nightmare. 
But one pleasant thing I do remember ; and that is the pa- 
tient, quick obedience of a young girl named Marie to her 
mother's and brother's imperative commands. Marie was 
the best looking of them all, and she seemed some black 
spirit. She had very large, wistful brown eyes, and kept 
them fixed steadily on me, except when I looked at her, and 
then she timidly looked away. The old woman gave me 
some sour milk and a piece of corn-bread; and eating it, 
and the old negro woman bringing me some old coats for pil- 
low and covering, I threw myself down by the young fellow 
who had been whipped, and tried to sleep. 

But my sleep was broken and troubled. I dreamed 
frightful dreams, and can now scarcely separate the real 
from the unreal. Whenever I awoke, the large black eyes 
of Marie were fixed on me ; the girl herself seeming to have 


no idea of sleep. Near morning, one of the men roused me, 
and said, "You muss be gwine, massa." They told me 
there were bad falls at Clarksville, about two miles below, 
which it would be difficult to pass. I should have gone 
into the cut-off, and through it to the Staunton River, which 
joined the Dan at Clarksville. I inquired if it would be 
possible to make my way back to the cut-off, and they said it 
would be hard to do it alone ; but, if I had a light canoe, it 
might be done. I decided to make the trial, and, bidding 
them good-by, started. By their reckoning, the cut-off was 
not more than half a mile away. I made scarcely any head- 
way, though I exerted all my strength. The current ran 
very rapidly ; and I had to keep stopping and resting, holding 
on to the bank as I did so, to prevent the boat being swept 
down the stream. At last, after going some distance, I 
landed, and walked up the bank to see how things looked. 
Not far up the river I saw the cut-off, and, taking note of 
the proper way of entering it, returned to the canoe. The 
fog was still very thick ; but the increasing light showed it 
would shortly be day. I soon gained the wished-for channel, 
and glided easily and rapidly down its current. 

The mist was too thick to allow me to distinguish when I 
entered Staunton River; but the appearance of the fog 


soon told that the sun was rising : and not long afterward 
the mist and vapor grew thinner, and then swept entirely 
away, showing the sun about an hour high. The morning 
was a beautiful one, and I felt its invigorating influence, lift- 
ing fear and anxiety from my mind, as the sun was lifting 
the fog from the river. I hugged the left bank to keep 
within the shadow of the willows, because the bright sun, 
shining directly up the river, almost blinded me ; and I saw 
but one person, — a negro, — pushing a canoe up river on 
the opposite side. He waved his hat, and hallooed; but I 
did not see fit to notice him. At that distance, he probably 
took me for one of his own color, I being in the shadow of 
the trees. 

Soon after this I heard the roar of the fall on the other side 
of the island, and knew I was near to Clarksville. I passed 
a magnificent place on the left bank, — a large, handsome 
mansion, painted white, and surrounded by neat outbuildings, 
with a beautiful lawn of several acres sloping gently down 
to the river. The scene reminded me of pictures I had seen 
of the manor-houses of England. Turning soon a slight 
curve in the river, I saw, a long distance down, the high stone 
pillars of what had once been a bridge ; and this, I had been 
told, was at Clarksville. Keeping on, I soon observed, 



some distance this side of the piers, a little house on the left 
bank, and, near by, indications of a ferry. I crossed over, 
and, approaching the house, caught sight of a negro man, 
woman, and child in the doorway. I beckoned to the man, 
and he came down to the landing. I explained to him in a 
very few words who I was, and what I wanted ; and he told 
me to drop silently down the river, hide my canoe, and then 
cautiously make my way back to the house. I did as 
directed, leaving my things in the boat; and that was the 
last I ever saw of the wooden friend who had served me so 




THE woman cooked me a breakfast of fried eggs, sweet- 
potatoes, pumpkin-mush, and hot cakes ; and I com- 
menced a good meal : but she soon grew nervous, and took 
me and the breakfast into a back room. She went out, and 
I was eating and enjoying myself there mightily ; when she 
came in again, and, snatching away my food, said with a look 
of indignation, " What you got in dar, — in de boat down 
in de riber ? ' ' 

I knew she referred to my bag of bread ; and I felt rather 
mean, but soon explained that I was laying up something 
for a rainy clay. This somewhat mollified her ; and she gave 
me the breakfast again, and soon afterwards seemed to be 
restored to good humor. 

While I was eating in the front room, the man had, in 
talking, put a new idea into my head. He said I could not 
possibly navigate the river, as there were many bad falls be- 
low Clarksville which could not be passed in the canoe. 


He also told me, — what I considered of more importance, 
— that, about a mile down the river, a road led directly 
from Clarksville to Petersburg. It was an old plank-road ; 
and I could not lose my way upon it, and would have to 
pass but two towns, — Boydtown and Dinwiddie. 

I was elated by this information, and decided to change 
my route, — not to go down to Gaston, but up by the plank- 
road to near Petersburg, and then to strike off to the right 
towards our army, governing my particular movements by 
circumstances. The man advised me to leave the canoe with 
him ; and I decided to do so, first, however, questioning him 
closely to learn how much his advice was influenced by a 
desire for the boat. I concluded that he was honest, and 
decided to trust him. He said I had better hide in a thicket 
near by until nightfall, when he would direct me to the 

I remained all day in a dense woods, sleeping a part of the 
time. The day seemed very long ; and, even when sunset 
came, I thought it would never grow dark. As soon as it 
was safe to emerge from my hiding-place, I went to where 
the negro was chopping wood, and asked if I could go into 
the house; and he said, "Not yet, but pretty soon." Re- 
turning to the woods, I waited patiently ;' and after a while, 



the negro calling me, I entered the house, and the woman 
gave me supper. I did not feel at all diffident about taking 
it, as. my canoe was worth many times as much. The man 
said, if any one asked him how he came by it, he should say 
he had found it floating down the river. 

He knew John Randolph, and promised to tell him I 
had come thus far in safety, and was still in good spirits. 
Then, making my blanket and bag into a convenient roll, I 
set out along the river-bank to find the road, which the 
negro said was about a mile lower down. Going on at a 
brisk pace, I soon saw a bright light ahead, on a road sloping 
up from the river. A negro man was sitting by the fire. I 
did not likflrto go within the circle of light; so I whistled, 
and he started up, and came slowly and doubtfully to- 
wards me. I soon re-assured him, and then asked some 
questions about the road. His answers tallied with the other 
man's, and satisfied me I was on the right route. He also 
knew John Randolph ; and I asked him to tell him about my 
having got along so well. I thought, if Randolph knew it, 
it would encourage him to do for others what he had done for 
me. The man, when I first saw him, was reading a news- 
paper, which- he obligingly gave me, saying, that, if he was 
at home, he could give me others. Soon afterwards I started 


on my way, the negro accompanying me a half-mile or so, 
and cheering me with every encouraging word he could think 
of. He was a tall, smart-looking fellow, and one of the very 
few slaves I had seen who could read. He said there were 
mile-posts all along the road to Petersburg, eighty-three 
miles. The town of Boydtown was twelve miles distant. 
Shaking me cordially by the hand, he at last bade me good- 
by, and I pushed forward. 

A good many of the mile-posts were gone ; but those that 
were left gave me great encouragement, for they enabled me 
to measure my progress. I passed through Boydtown about 
eleven o'clock. The lights were not out, and I could see 
it had a fine college ; at least one, whic]^ Jflfeed fine by 
moonlight. The grounds seemed well laid out, and the 
appearance of the whole was quite Northern. The dogs 
barked fiercely as I passed through the wide street ; but none 
actually molested me. 

I had gone only about fifteen miles, when I became so 
tired that I could go no farther. I had been driving my- 
self for some time ; but then my will gave out, and I laid 
down right in the road, and slept soundly. After a while, I 
awoke, and, starting again, walked about seven miles, though 
my feet dragged heavily for the last two or three. Then 


I laid down again, and had another short nap; and then 
got up again, and went on about six miles more. Day 
was now breaking; and finding a fallen oak, which, hav- 
ing its leaves on, offered a good hiding-place, I stretched my- 
self under it, and when the sun was well risen, and it had 
grown somewhat warm, had a refreshing sleep. Some time 
in the afternoon I awoke, and after a frugal meal from a slice 
of bread, and a shred of meat, went off on a scouting tour, 
keeping in the direction of Petersburg, but not going too 
near the road. I found some persimmons, which tasted very 
nicely ; but my stomach sympathized with the fatigue of my 
legs, and they made me sick for an hour or more. 

I kept on slowly through the woods, and towards night 
tried to find some negro of whom I could obtain information, 
but, finding none, at last stretched myself under a fence 
close to the road. Presently a white and a black boy came 
along, driving a herd of swine. The presence of the white 
boy obliged me to keep still ; but soon one of the herd came 
tearing back, with the negro boy running and shouting after 
it. I showed myself to the boy, and beckoned to him. He 
was too much engaged with the obstinate hog to notice me ; 
and I felt decidedly cut when he ran off again without even 
a word. 


I then set out along the road, although it was not quite 
dark, and had gone only a short distance, when I met a negro. 
I asked him a few questions, but did not tell him I was a 
Yankee ; and yet, after talking a few minutes, he asked me 
if I was not. I was somewhat taken aback by the question, 
but acknowledged the fact. He detected me by my voice. 
He said he had just passed a negro going in my direction, and, 
if I hurried, I should catch up with him before he reached the 
river. I asked what river ; and he said the Meheria, and 
that farther up, near Dinwiddie, I should cross the Nottaway. 
I inquired if there were any guards at these rivers ; and he 
said he didn't know about the Nottaway, but there were 
none at the Meheria. Leaving the negro,, I started on a run 
after the other man, but soon concluded he had too much the 
start of me, and slackened my pace to a walk. 

Presently I came to a place where a couple of trees had 
been felled across the highway, and the travel turned off to 
the right. I did not like to leave the path, as I had grown 
weary of travelling on branch and doubtful roads : so I kept 
right on over the trees, thinking that some small bridge might 
be gone, and I should soon come upon the travelled route 
again. The negroes had positively assured me there was a 
plank-road all the way to Petersburg, and only one : so I 


felt sure of coming out right if I followed the planks. I 
kept on quite a distance, and at last came to the end of the 
road ; at least to an end, if not the end ; for an immense ravine 
nearly or quite a hundred feet deep, and three or four hun- 
dred feet wide, was before me, half hidden by the dark- 
ness. A stream of water ran through it, and I could distin- 
guish some signs of a bridge nearly gone to decay. 

I disliked to go all the way back to where the road forked, 
and decided to creep along the river's bank until I came to 
the new bridge, whose outlines I thought I could then dis- 
cern far down the river." I walked on through the high grass 
and weeds thickly covered with dew, keeping near the edge 
of the bluff, which presently sloped down to only a slight 
bank, Soon I came to a road, which I judged was the one 
I had left behind at the fork. I followed the road down to 
the stream ; and, lo ! there was no bridge. The one I had 
seen was an illusion. No alternative presenting itself, I laid 
aside my clothes, and waded into the ice-cold water. When 
I reached the other bank, I was chilled and very uncomfort- 
able ; and, while putting on my clothes, the cold night-ah 
struck right through me. 

I found a perfect snarl of roads on the farther side of thq 
river, and, taking one which looked like the one I had left,, 



walked forward. As I went on, the road grew less and 
less like the other ; but I determined not to turn back until 
sure I was wrong : so I kept on about three miles, when I 
came to a house and outbuildings. I scouted round among 
the latter to find a negro cabin, but, finding none that was not 
deserted, cautiously reconnoitred the house. It was not a 
pretentious building ; and some beams were placed against its 
shutters and doors, apparently as fastenings. 

I went round to its farther side, and, after a few minutes' 
hesitation, knocked on the door. No answer. I repeated the 
summons; and soon a woman's voice called out, "Who is 
thar?" Giving my speech the Southern drawl, I told her 
a soldier, on the way from Clarksville to Petersburg, who 
had lost himself back on the Meheria River. 

She said she was sorry,*and told me that her husband was 
a soldier too, up at Petersburg. She also said that the road 
I was on led to Lawrenceville ; and where the plank-road was 
she did not know, but thought I had better go back to the 
river, and try to find it. "These are hard times," she 
added, "for poor folks." 

I assented feelingly to this remark, and thanking her, 
and saying good-night, started back to the river. After 
a while, I got there, and, beating about for a time in the dark- 


ness, found the plank-road again. I was rejoiced to find it, 
and, although very tired, thought I would make some head- 
way. I was too tired, however, to go far, and only went fifteen 
miles that night. Towards morning, I passed several wagon- 
camps. I came upon them very quietly, and, walking on 
with a nonchalant air, got by them all about as soon as seen; ■ 
no one taking the trouble to follow. If the soldiers had 
seen me before I passed, no doubt they would have inter- 
cepted me, and, in that event, might have discovered that I 
was a Yankee. 

Not finding a good hiding-place, I did not put up until 
sunrise. Then I discovered a secluded spot near the road, 
and, after a bite of bread, rolled myself in my ragged blan- 
ket, and slept soundly. I awoke somewhat refreshed, though 
stiff and cold. My legs had not recovered from their ill 
treatment at Hicoe Falls ; and my knee, where the dog bit it, 
pained me considerably. Liberty, however, was before me ; 
and no difficulty seemed too great to be surmounted. 

The day was immeasurably long ; and, growing impatient, 
I set out about half an hour before sunset. I passed two 
houses by going off the road into some woods, and soon after 
came upon two negro women gathering pine-knots for light- 
wood from the old planks of the road. They were some 


little distance apart; and I accosted the nearer one, and, after 
taking her measure, trusted her. She could give me little 
information, but told me not to trust the other ; for she was 
" green." When we joined the other, we talked as if I was 
a Confederate soldier; and she said, " It am a pity dat sech a 
nice-looking man as you am a sodger;" I asked if a poor 
soldier without money could get any thing to eat about 
there ; and they said I might at the second house, but not at 
the first, for the woman there was terribly stingy. The first 
girl told me, that, in my costume, I had little to fear ; and 
yet she would not advise me to travel by daylight. 

I left them, and, coming to the second house, marched into 
the yard, and up to the door, and rapped. A little negro 
boy appeared ; and I asked him if his mistress was about. 
He said yes, and went to call her. She soon appeared, — 
an old lady, rather pinched in' the face, — and I inquired if 
she could let me have something to eat. She said she would 
like to, but had no bread or meat cooked. I then asked for 
some milk ; and she said the morning milk was all gone, and 
they had not yet milked for the evening. Being determined 
to have something, I then requested her to give me a glass of 
water ; and she directed the little negro boy to bring it. I 
thanked her very courteously, and she looked a little ashamed. 


Soon afterward I met three ladies and a young girl on the 
road, and saluted them in a style as nearly Southern as I could. 
The expression of surprise on their faces, however, told me 
it was not exactly the thing. I had done my best, how- ■ 
ever ; and, as nothing happened, it was all well. 

I soon came to a house on the left of the highway. There 
were trees between it and me ; and, as it stood back from the 
road some little distance, I had approached very near to it 
before I saw that it was a place of considerable resort. A 
number of horses were hitched to posts near the door, and a 
number of men were lounging about ■ on the veranda. I 
passed by as unconcernedly as I could, although I expected 
to be hailed every minute. I made up my mind to run if 
I was, and take to the nearest woods. No one troubled 
me, however ; and I went on much relieved, but anxious to 
put as much distance as possible between me and the 

Presently I came to a place in the road where I. could see 
ahead some distance. A large tract of cleared land was on 
either side of»the road, and several groups of houses. I 
thought I "could "distinguish white men at work about the 
nearest house, and concluded that I had been careless long 
enough, and must look for some place of concealment. I 


was about starting back to find some cover, when I heard 
voices in the direction from which I had come. No good 
cover was near ; but I took to the best, — a narrow strip of 
trees and bushes which grew between the road I was on, 
and one which forked from it just beyond me. I had scarce- 
ly got into the bushes, when a herd of cattle came in sight. 
They came opposite to me, and, I suppose, scented my pres- 
ence ; for they stopped, and stared at me in a dreadfully 
aggravating way. I was afraid the men would notice their 
queer actions, or that persons in the vicinity would come up 
and discover me : so I pelted them away with sticks, — all 
but one stupid steer, which showed fight. At last I planted a 
large stone between his eyes ; and he ran off bellowing, but 
stopping occasionally to look back, and threaten me with his 

I now watched the turn in the road, and presently saw 
coming along very slowly an old woman, a girl of about 
twenty, a very pretty younger girl, and a small boy. They 
had baskets, and, I judged, had been to let the cattle out of 
pasture, and to gather pine-knots, which are used by the 
poor whites and negroes for candles. They sauntered along 
slowly, and, when opposite to me, stopped for several minutes 
not ten feet away, and in plain view of my hiding-place. 


They went on a little distance, and then returned ; and soon 
a large portly man came along, who called the pretty girl 
Lucy. I hugged the ground very tightly ; for, though I 
could have overcome the whole party, the pursuit which 
would have followed might have proved serious. After 
chatting about five minutes, they separated, and went their 

As soon as they were fairly Out of sight, I went back to 
better cover, and waited until dark; then started again, but 
had not gone far, when I heard the sound of approaching 
wheels and the tread of horsemen. Hiding behind a pine- 
bush, I waited for them to pass. There was a buggy and 
several mounted men riding before, and as many mounted 
men riding behind, apparently as guard. I could not see the 
occupants of the buggy; but I heard a scrap of their conver- 
sation. It referred to some official order, but I could not 
hear just what. After they had gone, I started on again. 

When I arrived at the house where I thought I had seen 
white men at work, I thought I would look round a little. 
Clambering over the fence, I noiselessly approached the 
house, and saw lights within, and heard people talking. 
I made out the outline of what appeared to be a negro cabin, 
and, going to the side farthest from the house, stepped up to 


the door, and knocked very quietly, the house being very 
near. A dog sprang up, and barked savagely; and a young 
negro girl opened the door, and asked what I wanted. T 
made signs to her to be silent, and entered. A very old man 
was there, and a very young baby. The latter belonged ap- 
parently to the young girl, although she could not have been 
more than fourteen or fifteen years old. 

The old man was deaf, and did not at first understand 
who or what I was ; but, when he did, he brightened up, 
and his eye glistened with pleasure. He told me several 
useful things, and cautioned me to be careful. He said that 
a young man named Randall — a Yankee, and one of 
Wilson's raiders — had called at this very house (the white 
folks'), and, being detected as a Yankee, had been turned 
over to a magistrate by the name of John Norrington, 
who, aided by a mean white named Jeff. Davis, took Ran- 
dall out to a wood near by, stripped him, tied him to a ;s Aree, 
and then shot him. They threw his body into a little ra- 
vine, and shovelled some dirt upon it ; and then, Davis taking 
his clothes, the two worthies returned to the bosoms of their 
families. Both had since gone as soldiers to Petersburg. 

The negroes were surprised that the dog did not attack 
me. He was a very fierce animal, and I was the only stran- 


ger he had ever allowed to approach the house. I stretched 
myself on the bed for a few minutes, while the girl washed 
and roasted some sweet-potatoes. Then I started on again, 
the girl regretting she could give me no more potatoes, and 
the old man invoking upon me all sorts of blessings. The 
dog again let me pass freely, and I reached the road in safety. 

I had not gone far when I heard the sounds of horses gal- 
loping towards me in the distance. I was doubtful whether 
they were pursuing me or not. No good cover was near ; but 
^a house was not far ahead : and, as the horses drew near, I 
sprang over the fence, and came within a foot or two of 
jumping into a well. Creeping along the fence >a little dis- 
tance, I lay clown close to it, and soon heard the horses go 
by ; but it was too dark to distinguish them. They stopped 
at the gate of the house ; and I heard them asking questions 
of some one who came out. I was morally certain they were 
inquiring about me, and cursed the impatience which had led 
me to expose myself in the daytime. After a few minutes, 
they started on again ; and the sound of their horses' hoofs 
soon died away in the distance. 

I was anxious to find out what the horsemen wanted, 
and thought there must be a negro about who would know 
something about it. I crept quietly up to the building, and, 


after a thorough reconnoissance, knocked at the door of a 
house which looked too good for a negro tenement. A 
peep through the logs showed me a very tidy, light-col- 
ored couple ; the woman spinning, and the man making 
baskets. The man let me in, and gave me a seat by the 
roaring fire. On questioning him, he told me that the men 
I had seen were neighbors, who had been to the post-office, 
and, having found a letter for his mistress, had brought it 
along and left it on their return. Then I knew that the build- 
ing I had passed, where the horses were hitched, was the 
post-office, and all my fright about the horsemen went for 

The man informed me it was about seven miles to the 
Nottaway; but he did not know whether or not there was a 
guard at the crossing. However, he thought there was one 
at Dinwiddie, which was only a short distance beyond. The 
woman offered me something to eat. I was not hungry, but 
took a sweet-potato to carry with me. It had just been roast- 
ed, and was as useful as a small stove in keeping me warm. 

I set out again, but had not gone far before I heard a 
horse galloping behind me, and took cover in a deserted 
blacksmith-shop. The horse and rider soon came along, 
the man singing. I thought I detected a touch of the negro 


in his voice, and, when he came up, scanned him as closely 
as the darkness would permit. I was a little in doubt, as the 
man, in that light, could not be distinguished from a white 
man ; but, feeling a little reckless, stepped out into the 
road in front of his horse. He pulled up suddenly, and 
asked what I wanted. I told him I wanted to know about 
the road, and, if he was not in a hurry, would like to keep 
him company for a while. I was now sure he was in some 
degree a negro, and, questioning him, learned that he was a 
freeman, and had a plantation of his own. I did not tell 
him who I was, being a little doubtful about free negroes; 
but I sounded him, and was pretty well satisfied he would 
not betray me ; but, as I had learned all I desired in the 
character of a Confederate soldier, concluded it was useless 
to trust him. Among other things, he said that Wilson's 
raiders had pretty well ' ' cleaned him out ' ' the last sum- 
mer ; but he harbored no malice against them. He said 
there were about forty thousand Rebels just outside of 
Petersburg, on the South-side Railroad. 

We went along together for some distance, and I learned 
a great deal from him. Coming at length to a road which 
led to his place, he bade me good-night, at the same time 
pointing to a largo white house, a short distance ahead, as a 


Confederate colonel's, where I would be gladly welcomed 
and well treated. I did not question the first part of this 
assurance, but, as to the good treatment, had my doubts. 

I trudged along the rough road, tripping over ruts and 
planks, and stumbling into holes : it was very tiresome ; but 
I did not expect much ease. The moon was obscured by 
clouds, and gave little or no light ; and, a little after mid- 
night, a terrible storm of wind and rain came on. I could 
find no shelter but the trees, and was soon wet through. The 
wind howled among the trees, twisting and swaying them 
about as if they were a host of shadowy demons engaged in 
mortal combat. I never witnessed so fierce a storm ; and, 
while it lasted, the excitement made me forget all discomfort. 

The storm did not continue more than an hour; and, when 
it was over, I was uttert^exhausted ; -and I was somewhat dis- 
heartened too, for I could not see m.y way clear. The negro 
had told me of large numbers of Rebels ahead ; and I knew 
that I was coming to a place where my life would be in im- 
minent' peril. I was cold also, and wet through; and every 
thing looked dark and gloomy. I remembered the negro's 
prayer for me, and prayed myself, not in words, but in 
thought. I really felt stronger and more encouraged after 


it, and, plucking up new spirit, walked on again as briskly 
as I could over the rough, miry road. 

The wagon-camps soon became numerous, their fires gleam- 
ing in every little grove by the roadside. At some of them 
a few men were standing about the fires ; but the most of 
them were lying with their feet to the fire, looking like so 
many mummies, as the firelight glistened on the brass plates 
of their equipments, and on their muskets, which were rest- 
ing against the trees and wagons. Most of the camps were 
a little distance from the road ; and, as I went by very qui- 
etly, the soldiers did not see me. 

A little after midnight, I came to a long bridge, — so 
long, that, in the darkness, I could see no end to it, — and 
was doubtful whether to cross it, or to go above or below, 
ford the river, and then come back to the road again. I 
listened and looked intently for some time, but, hearing 
and seeing nothing, advanced on tip-toe, with my eyes and 
ears on the alert. I had gone half-way over, when I heard 
footsteps on the farther end advancing towards me. I about- 
faced, and started back as quietly and rapidly as possible, 
and tried to find cover near by. A road turned off to the 
right. Turning into it. I walked on a little ways, and 
crouched clown behind a clump of bushes. 


The man turned into the same road ; and, seeing a collis- 
ion was inevitable, I made a movement to better my position. 
He was just opposite to me, when the gravel grated under 
my foot, and he started for the other side of the road. I 
sprang after and collared him, but instantly let go my hold • 
for no eye-balls but a darky's could show in the dark- 
ness as his did. I laughed to myself, and proceeded to 
calm the fears of the ague-stricken negro, but was rejoiced 
that the encounter had turned out so comical; for, to be 
entirely frank, I was a minute before almost as badly fright- 
ened as he. He said he had not seen or heard me until 
I was just ready to spring upon him. He thought at first I 
was a woman, but, when I sprang upon him, saw I was a man. 
He told me that the river was the Nottaway ; that no guards 
were at the bridge ; and the nearest ones were twelve miles 
away, at Dinwiddie Court House. 

After the fellow got over his fright, I took a fancy to him, 
and told him every thing. He was very much pleased^ when 
he learned who and what I was, and asked me to come to his 
house, where he could hide me " mighty well." It was near 
morning ; I could not go much farther ; and so I decided to 
accept his hospitality. 

As we walked on towards his house, he told me his name 


was John Randolph ! I was surprised and pleased, and 
accepted the coincidence as a good omen. I mentioned the 
other John Randolph; but he did not know him. He said 
the free negro I had met a short distance back was a good 
man, and would not have harmed me. He knew of but one 
negro who would betray me ; and his house I had passed 
long before : so I need borrow no trouble on that account. 
He corroborated the old darky's account of the death of 
Randall, relating it precisely as he did ; and said that the 
body of a negro, a United-States soldier, who had escaped 
and been recaptured, was then hanging a little beyond the 
bridge over the Nottaway. He offered me some apple- 
brandy, which I drank, rinding it very invigorating, though 
not very strong. It cost the negro twelve dollars a quart. 

We had a little conversation about the currency system, 
and he said that a basket of chips would bring five dollars 
in Confederate money ; but, though every thing commanded 
so high a price, it made little difference, as, none wanting to 
hold it, the money was kept in pretty lively circulation. He 
also told me there had been more fighting in the Shenandoah 
Valley; but he could not tell how it resulted, though he 
thought the Yankees had the best of it. 

We soon arrived at the plantation where he lived. His 


own house was neat and comfortable, and the mansion-house 
was a splendid building. We went to the back of the man- 
sion by a drive-way, and trod very quietly ; for Confeder- 
ate officers were quartered in the dwelling. When John 
came to his cabin, he took a key from under the door, un- 
locked it, and asked me to enter. His wife — a light-col- 
ored mulatto — and two girls were sleeping in the room, 
and the fire-light showed that they were all quite pretty. 
John himself was a good-looking fellow, with mustache and 
whiskers; and he had a watch, which indicated three, a.m. 
He aroused his wife ; and she soon cooked me a good break- 
fast, with something to carry with me on the next day's jour- 

After breakfast, I set out for a deserted tobacco-barn far 
off in the field, where I was to hide until nightfall,, when 
John would come for me. He went along to show me where 
it was, and, when we arrived there, made a scaffolding upon 
some poles, on which I might lie during the day. 

It was a cold morning ; and the wind shivered through the 
chinks in the barn, and made me very uncomfortable. Some 
one was firing a gun in the woods nearly all the day ; but 
the sound kept at a respectful. distance, and did not alarm 
me. About nine in the evening, John came, and made a 


little fire ; for I was so cold, I could hardly move. We 
then went back to the house, where I got warmed nicely. 

John advised me to turn off the road this side of Dinwid- 
die Court House, at a plantation which he described, 
where I should find certain negroes, who would show me the 
way to the Weldon Railroad, and guide me past the Rebel 
pickets, if there were any. I had anticipated great difficulty 
in passing the pickets, and was glad of the least assistance. 
He offered me some money ; but I told him I had no need of 
it : and this reminds me that the other John Randolph, when 
speaking of taking me down to Gaston, tendered me money. 
He said I should meet numbers of negroes on the road, as 
it was Saturday night. They would be going to the houses 
of their wives. Leaving my address, to be given to any 
passing Union soldier, I bade them all a grateful good-by, 
and set out again on my journey. 

I had not gone far before I caught up with an old darky, 
who seemed anxious to keep me company ; but, not far be- 
yond the bridge, he turned off upon a branch road, and I was 
left alone again. The night was very cold ; and, to keep 
warm, I had to walk briskly. When I came near to where 
I thought the Dinwiddie Bridge should be, I observed a large 
mansion on the left, far back from the road, and heard some 


one near by chopping wood. I was very cold, and longed 
to sit by a fire a little while : so I went up the drive-way 
leading to the house. Going to the left, I discovered a rud- 
dy light pouring through the chinks of a cabin, and, peeping 
in, saw three or four negroes gathered about some blazing 
logs. Liking their looks, I rapped at the door. An old 
woman let me in, and I took a direct route to the fire. 

Two mulatto girls were seated in the corner, and one of 
them was the prettiest I had seen at the South. She had 
beautiful brown hair and eyes ; delicate, regular features ; 
and was very lady-like in appearance. I was also much 
struck with her intelligence. She brought me a book, — a 
volume of "The Wide, Wide World." I had read it when 
a boy, and it looked like an old friend. She said she liked 
it very much. I told her I wanted information of the where- 
abouts of the Rebels, and their plans ; and, going into another 
room, she called her husband. 

When he came, I thought of Shakspeare's " Midsummer 
Night's Dream," — of Titania and her long-eared lover. 
He was a stout, robust negro, as black- as midnight, and, at 
first sight, awfully homely ; but he improved somewhat on ac- 
quaintance. He told me a great deal about the strength and 
disposition of the Rebel forces, and, in the course of conver- 


sation, said that he was an officer's servant, just returned 
from the Shenandoah Valley. He was at the fight at Win- 
chester with his master, who was then at the house with the 
white folks and some other soldiers. I asked for a pencil, 
and made a few memoranda such as I should understand, 
but which could not be deciphered in case I was taken. 
I was somewhat amused at the slack allegiance which the 
negro rendered his master. The beautiful girl brought me 
a fine long pencil, which I saw by the stamp was one of 
Faber's ; and, when I got through, wanted to give it to me. 
I declined to take it ; and then she brought me two enor- 
mous red apples. 

Leaving my name and address with my new friends, I set 
out again. It was now nearly morning ; and I hastened on 
so as to reach before daylight the cabin John Randolph had 
described. His description was so definite, that I had no 
difficulty in finding it. A number of negro men were there, 
and one of them was just setting out in the direction I wanted 
to go; and, when he went, I went with him. We took an 
almost imperceptible foot-path, using the greatest caution, 
and crossing a creek on the remains of a bridge which had 
been partially destroyed by Wilson's raiders. The man 
pointed out a mill which they had burned. He said the dis- 


tance from the plank-road to the Weldon Railroad was from 
fifteen to eighteen miles ; and from Clarksville to Dinwiddie, 
seventy-two miles. 

We had not gone over four miles before we came to 
another plantation. Here the negro left me concealed behind 
a tree while he went to reconnoitre the premises. Presently 
he came back, and we entered a poor-looking cabin. A 
number of young negroes, dressed in Confederate uniforms, 
were in the room; and I was somewhat doubtful of their 
character. They noticed this, and did their best to re-assure 

Presently a white man came in, also dressed in uniform. 
I sprang up, and thought I was surely betrayed ; but .he 
advanced, and accosted me politely and pleasantly. I did 
not know what to make of him, and told him so ; at which 
they all laughed, telling me that he was a slave just as they 
were. I could scarcely believe it. He was a large, fine- 
looking man, with straight, light-colored hair, blue eyes, and 
a florid complexion. Accustomed as I had become to all 
shades of negro complexion, I was puzzled with him. There ' 
was not the least indication of negro blood about him ; in 
fact, his skin was much lighter than mine. 

He sat down, and they and he told me his story. He was 


married to a mulatto girl named Lucy, who belonged to the 
plantation where we were. He had lived on the place ad- 
joining ; but one day his master became frightened about the 
Yankees, and started with all his slaves for Georgia. This 
one escaped just beyond the Meheria River, and made his 
way back to his wife, who had since been able to see him only 
in stolen interviews ; he being obliged to stay in the woods in 
the vicinity. However, as the planter was old, and not able 
to move about much, he was able to visit his wife quite 

About daybreak, this man and I went out to a little piece 
of woods near by, and had quite a chat ; he giving me many 
valuable hints as to my future operations. When the sun 
was about an hour high, a very graceful and pretty mulatto 
woman came to us, bringing a warm breakfast of fresh pork 
and yam-potatoes, hot corn-bread, and sweet milk. The 
potatoes were red outside and yellow within, and the best I 
ever ate. 

Alvin, the white slave, had been thinking of going North 
for some time ; and all the negroes had advised him to go, 
and, now that I had come, urged him strongly to take ad- 
vantage of the opportunity. I told him I should be very 
glad to have his company, and urged him to start ; alleging as 


a reason why he should, that the season would soon be too 
inclement to allow of his remaining out of doors. His wife, 
however, clung to him, and begged him not to leave her, 
and, although she acknowledged the force of our arguments, 
would not consent to his going. 

We spent the forenoon in the bushes. He had a fine six- 
shooter, of Colt's pattern, and, I thought, would not have 
hesitated to use it, had occasion required. Several Confede- 
rate soldiers rode by our place of concealment ; but they did 
not see us. About half a dozen also were at the house, 
having a merry time with the young ladies. I slept some 
during the morning ; but Alvin appeared to be studying in- 
tently about something. I suppose he was trying to decide 
to leave his wife, who was too delicate to go with him. 

About noon, Lucy brought us a bountiful dinner of fricas- 
seed chicken, roast pork, sweet and common potatoes, cab- 
bage, and a nice pudding. She, Alvin, and I then sat 
down in the dryest spot we could find (for the place was 
swampy) , and were eating, when another mulatto lady came 
out to us. She was dressed in black, with a very capacious 
crinoline ; and looked very much as if she had been boxed up 
on Broadway, and freshly opened in Virginia. Her features 
were good, and she had a very high forehead. Other negroes 


soon joined us; and, having eaten our dinner, we invited 
them to finish the food, which they did, sitting down in an 
easy way, and showing considerable natural refinement. 
One of the men brought a bottle of apple-brandy, which one 
of the women discovered, and, after a regular gale, got from 
him. We had a little all round ; mine being so strong, it 
nearly took my head off. Altogether, it was a merry pic- 
nic ; and I enjoyed it, though I was a fugitive, and my 
companions were negroes. 

They proposed that one of their number should go with 
me that night as far as Rowanty Creek, where was a man 
who would give me another "lift." Alvin could not get 
his wife's permission to accompany me, and so bade me good- 
by when I started, which was soon after dark. An old man 
went with me, I carrying his bundle, which helped him 
along considerably. When we neared the old man's cabin, 
he pointed it out to me at the farther end of a long clearing; 
and, entering the clearing, we approached it quietly. We 
had not gone far, however, before a gun was fired only two 
or three rods from us. I was somewhat startled by the 
report ; but, as I heard the noise of geese flying overhead, 
I concluded it was some one firing at random, which it 
probably was. 


The negro left me in the clearing while he went to the 
house and reconnoitred. He presently returned, saying all 
was right at the house ; and we went there together. I was 
about going on among the "quarters;" but the negro 
marched straight to the "great house," and entered. I 
supposed he would soon come out, and show me to one of 
the cabins : so I waited outside until he came to the door 
again and asked me to come in. I inquired, in some sur- 
prise, if there were not white folks at the mansion; and he said, 
"No." It appeared that Lucy's master (a Major Kony) 
owned the place, which had formerly been occupied by his 
daughter and son-in-law; but, they having gone to Texas, 
the house had been turned over to the negroes who worked 
the plantation. We entered a pleasant room, where were 
several good-looking negroes; and the old man left for a 
plantation a little farther on. 

The negroes placed a chair for me near the fire ; and, 
seating ourselves in a cosey half-circle, we chatted away for 
a while very pleasantly. My companions were two pretty 
girls and an old woman, — old, but small and smart enough 
to be a girl of sixteen. She had been at the North, and was 
very well informed on ordinary subjects. She told me of 
the killing of Randall, and of several other things substan- 


tially as I had heard them ; and spoke also of four of 
Wilson's raiders who had been left wounded at Dinwiddie 
Court House. Some of the women there were anxious to 
poison them, but, being in a minority, were prevented. 
However, when the men were nearly recovered, they died 
very suddenly and mysteriously, and were buried near the 
bridge over which I had passed. 

These women told me all about the strength and disposi- 
tion of the Rebel forces. They were particularly desirous 
I should tell our generals about a place called Stony-Creek 
Depot, where a large quantity of supplies, wagons, and cars, 
were stored, which it would be well to destroy. 

We were sitting there, coseyly enjoying ourselves, when 
some one smashed open the door, and ran away, yelling terri- 
fically. I sprang up, wondering what was the matter, and 
very soon discovered a number of negroes running about, 
screaming ' ' Fire ! ' ' The flames were bursting through the 
roof, and had already attained good headway at the farther 
end of the house. Taking my things, I put them into one 
of the cabins, and then, at the suggestion of the negroes, 
kept out of sight, lest someone, seeing the fire from the 
road, should come over and detect me. I thought the 
negroes could put out the fire, but soon saw it gaining on 


them rapidly. They were fast growing discouraged ; and, as 
they had been very kind to me, I thought I could do no less 
than help them. Emerging from my hiding-place, I went to 
work with a will, first getting together every thing that 
would hold water, and then setting every man, woman, and 
child to bringing it from a large spring not far off. I en- 
couraged them by every means in my power ; and soon they 
were doing their best. 

I went up stairs, where a man was trying to do something ; 
but he had become sick, and was fast giving out. Standing 
up in a chair, I cut a hole through the shingles with an axe ; 
and then, the old woman handing me water, I deluged the 
whole outside of the roof. The heat was almost unbearable 
at first; but I soon got the fire under a little, and then, 
forcing myself through the hole in the roof, throwing water 
judiciously, and tearing off the burning boards and shingles, 
speedily got the flames under. It was an hour or more, how- 
ever, before the fire was altogether extinguished. It would 
burst forth every now and then in some new place ; but final- 
ly the last spark went out, and I began to think it was time 
to conceal myself. I wondered that no one had yet come : 
but the house was a long way from anywhere ; and, being 
surrounded by high trees, the fire was probably not seen 


from a distance, or, if seen, the bright blaze did not last 
long, and any one who had started would be apt to turn 
back. As it was, no one came. 

We partially replaced the disordered furniture, and then 
sat down to talk the matter over. The negroes were very 
thankful to me, and I was glad to have been able to serve 
them. I had lost my cap, and it was not found until the 
next morning. I dropped it while fighting the fire in the 
garret ; and the old woman had thrown it out of the win- 
dow, and forgotten all about it. 

The man who was going to show me the way through the 
swamps was sick, and the others were afraid he would not be 
able to go with me. They thought I had better wait until 
the next night, however, and he might be better : meanwhile 
I could hide in the house. I did not lie down until mid- 
night, but then slept soundly until morning, and woke 
feeling quite refreshed. I had burned and bruised my 
hands somewhat, but, aside from that, was in good con- 

The old woman made me a nice breakfast ; and after 
breakfast, as I was sitting by the fire, a little darky ran into 
the room, saying that a squad of soldiers were coming to the 
house. As the house was in a clearing, I could not leave 


it without being seen ; and it would have been fool-hardy 
to attempt to run from mounted men. They did not know 
I was there, unless the negroes had betrayed me ; and I 
concluded I could hide from them easily. Harriet, the 
prettiest of the girls, escorted me up stairs, and concealed 
me in a little nook under the roof of an ell-part of the 
building. She said she would make the soldiers talk if they 
came about the house, so I might hear what they said. 

The soldiers soon came all about the building, and another 
squad went to a log-barn near by. The latter began to rob 
the barn of its fodder, in spite of the remonstrances of the 
negroes ; and the soldiers lounging about the house, to try to 
beg or buy some molasses. One of them had some coffee, 
which he called " pure Java; " and he wanted to exchange 
a bagful of it for a pint of molasses : but the negroes were 
not anxious to trade. They seemed only intent on keeping 
the soldiers out of the house. 

The girl Harriet amused me very much by her conversa- 
tion with the soldiers. As they remained at the house all 
day, it would take too much space to detail all they said. 
Their remarks about the war were highly edifying. They 
appeared to be discouraged, and not very hostile to the 
Yankees. Some quite good-looking men were among them, 


and many who were tolerably well dressed. Their horses 
were rather poor in flesh, but looked smart and active. 

The negroes, seeing that the fodder was fast disappearing, 
determined to save all they could by bringing it into the 
house. A soldier had come along who was a friend of Major 
Rony's ; andThe told the negroes, if they would give him two 
or three bundles of fodder, he would pretend to be a guard 
sent from camp, and would not allow any more to be taken 
by the others. He did so ; and the other soldiers, thinking 
he was a guard, did not dare to take any more. It was, 
however, already half gone. 

The soldiers spoke to the negroes about the fire, and asked 
how it occurred. The negroes answered that a man was 
going by the house, when a flock of geese flew over. He 
fired at them ; and the wadding from his gun, lodging on 
the roof, had set it on fire. This was a falsehood, intended 
partially to shield them from the wrath of Major Rony. 
The real state of the case was this : A fire had been kindled 
on the hearth of one of the upper chambers ; and a spark, 
snapping from it, had lodged in among some fire-wood piled 
against a wooden wainscot. The wood had set the wainscot 
on fire, and the flames had climbed up to the roof. This was 


as plain as a pikestaff. The negroes chopped away the wain- 
scoting that the major might not detect it. 

While the negroes were bringing in the fodder, two others 
came down to the plantation from Major Rony's. I had 
met them there ; in fact, they were at the picnic. One of 
them came to me in the garret ; and we lay there together, 
making whispered comments on the Rebels as they moved 
about the lawn. The negro was a witty fellow, and enjoyed 
watching the soldiers as they walked or rode unconsciously 
about below us, so near that their heads were often not more 
than five or six feet away. 

The Rebels took a number of things which were lying 
about, mostly horse-gear ; but behaved tolerably well, being 
evidently afraid of Major Rony. The two men who had 
come down were going to another plantation, which was in 
the direction I wished to go ; and as George, the man who 
was to have gone with me, was still too sick to travel, they 
consented to wait until dark, and accompany me. Harriet 
was to come down the next day to look after some swine 
which were there ; and she would show me the way through 
the swamp. 

At noon, Harriet brought me a good dinner ; and I quite 
enjoyed myself, feeling no concern on account of the Rebels, 


though there were probably two hundred about the house 
throughout the day. They were a rough set generally, and 
looked as if they might bear a great deal of hardship . The 
negro said they belonged to Hampton's division of cavalry, 
and to Mederrin's, Berringer's, and Buller's brigades, which 
were encamped about a mile distant. The negro told me of 
an affair which happened to Buller's brigade just after the 
fight at Ream's Station, which is worth repeating. It seemed 
that nearly all of the brigade had clothed themselves in blue 
overcoats by stripping our dead, wounded, and prisoners. 
As they were returning to camp, the remainder of the divis- 
ion fell upon them, and, before the mistake was discovered, 
killed and wounded quite a number. 

When it came night, the Rebels nearly all returned to 
their camp. The negroes who were to accompany me were 
impatient to start : but one of the soldiers remained at the 
door, making some bargain about his washing ; and I had to 
wait until he was gone before coming down from the garret. 
He went at last ; and I was going out, having taken leave of 
the negroes, when another Rebel rode up on some 'trivial 
errand. The negroes were waiting for me at the eastern end 
of the clearing ; and, seeing no immediate prospect of the 
soldier leaving, I leaped out of a window on the opposite 


side of the house, and, scouting quietly through the corn- 
field, soon came upon the negroes. 

We tramped along for two hours, the negroes using great 
caution, and watching narrowly for any Rebels who might 
chance to be roving about. One of them was going to work 
at Stony-Creek Depot, the other on a plantation near by. 
They intended accompanying me as far as the place where 
the swine were kept, when we all would take up our quar- 
ters in a deserted cabin near by until morning. They 
thought I had better wait there until Harriet came down, 
when she would show me the swamp-path. At last we 
arrived at the cabin. They somewhat expected to find a 
runaway there, who was trying to get to our lines ; but he 
was gone, and had probably already started. 

To show how independent the negroes on this place were, 
I will tell a little circumstance about Harriet. She was 
supposed to occupy the cabin, and to stay there, caring for 
the swine. But, running loose, the swine would not suffer 
from inattention ; and, disliking to live in the lonesome place, 
Harriet, without her master's knowledge, made her home at 
the mansion. The woman at the Clarksville Ferry had 
given me a few matches ; and with them we made a fire, and 
I passed the rest of the night in sound slumber. 


The negroes awoke before daybreak ; and, being anxious to 
start on, I asked them if they could not direct me, so I might 
find the way through the swamp by myself. They thought, 
as I had come that far without getting into trouble, I 
should have none in getting through, but said I would have 
to keep my wits about me, as there was no path in the 
swamp. I should have to stop directly west of the place I 
wanted to come out at, — between two pickets, — and then go 
straight towards the rising sun. I must look out for snakes 
also : for, though it was late in the season, I might, in step- 
ping on some rotten log, disturb one ; and his bite would be 
sure death. 

After passing the swamp, I should come first upon a dirt 
road, and then — about a quarter of a mile farther — upon 
the Weldon Railroad. Beyond that they knew nothing, but 
thought that, once across the railroad, I should be safe, as no 
negro who had gone that way ever came back ; and they 
thought all had got through safely. 

I did not like the idea of remaining about the cabin all 
day merely to see Harriet, who, at the best, could guide me 
but a short distance into the swamp. Besides, the shanty 
was on a road leading from one Rebel camp to another, and 
there would likely be soldiers passing upon it. So I con- 


eluded to avoid the danger, get the best start possible, and 
make my own way through the swamp as well as I could. 
The negroes directed me to a point on the edge of the swamp. 
I could not see the place in the dim light of the early dawn : 
but their directions were so minute, that I could not very 
well miss it ; and, bidding them good-by, I started for the 
trackless wilderness. 

For about half a mile of the way, there was an old path ; 
and at the end of it I came upon the ruins of a plantation- 
house. From there I went on in a north-east direction, 
keeping upon the high and cleared land as long as I could, 
according to the directions. The swamp, for thirty or forty 
rods, was not very wet ; but, beyond that distance, a shal- 
low, stagnant lake lay spread out before me as far as I 
could see. A heavy growth of trees, shooting high up and 
casting gloomy shadows around, great prostrate rotten logs, 
and flaunting moss floating about in the misty air, made a 
rather dismal picture. The coming sun was flushing the 
eastern horizon. I could catch glimpses of it through the 
thickly springing trees, and, facing a little to the north, 
plunged into the swamp. 

One of my shoes was so badly worn, that I had to tie a 
string about it to keep the upper-leather and sole together. 


This came off in the mud, and I had to use great care not 
to lose my shoe. The water the most of the way was up 
to my knees, and the mud was bottomless. However, by 
stepping on submerged branches, I avoided sinking ; though 
now and then I had to spring and leap about very lively 
to keep from sticking fast. 

I rested occasionally on logs, using them also for foot 
bridges when I could do so, but soon began to think the 
morass had no end ; for still the endless column of trees, the 
glassy reaches of slimy water, and the broken network of 
rotten logs, lay spread out before me. But there is an end 
to every thing, — even to Virginia swamps : so I kept on 
as best I could, with my face towards the rising sun. 

When I first entered the swamp, I had heard several dis- 
charges of a musket a little to the left and quite near to 
me. I did not know what to make of it, and concluded, if 
some one was out gunning, they were at it bright and early. 
I put as much swamp between me and the reports as I could 
in a limited space of time; but, after four or five discharges, 
the sounds died away, and I heard no more of them. I did 
not then know what to make of them, and do not now. 

After floundering about for at least two miles, I came to 
running water of considerable depth. This I concluded was 


what the negroes had called Itowanty Creek. Fording it, 
I kept on about two miles farther ; when I emerged from 
the swamp, and came at last upon higher ground. I was 
dead tired, and my legs were badly bruised with stumbling 
over broken sticks and knotty logs ; but I went on a little 
farther before I sat down to rest, and clean the mud and 
wring the water from my clothes. I was soon somewhat 
rested, and then started again. I had now come upon 
cleared ground, and had to use great care not to -be seen, 
and so took advantage of all the little hollows and woods. 
No buildings, except a fine-looking plantation-house about a 
quarter of a mile away, were in sight ; and the morning 
was somewhat foggy. All this was in my favor. 

At the end of a long half-mile, I came upon the high- 
road. I was delighted to see it, — it seemed like an old 
friend; and I could hardly restrain a joyful exclamation. 
In fact, all of the places to which I had been directed were 
so constantly in my mind, that, when I came to them, they 
seemed old friends. Even the Dismal Swamp carried me 
through a chain of Eebel pickets. 

Looking sharply up and down the road, and seeing no 
one, I skipped across it to the woods on the other side, and 
then pressed forward. Less than a quarter of a mile be- 


yond I came upon the Weldon Railroad, and my spirits rose 
to even a higher pitch ; and a feeling of safety and con- 
fidence came upon me, which I had not felt before. The 
track at this point was cut through a heavy pine-forest, and 
excavated to the depth of eight or ten feet; the earth 
being thrown up in two long yellow heaps on either side. 
Standing in the edge of the wood near the road, I looked 
carefully up and down the long vista of pine-trees which 
crowded closely down to the track to see if any one was 
there who would be likely to give me trouble. Away 
towards Ream's Station, where the two lines of rails came 
almost to a point, I thought I saw something' moving like 
men. They were, however, too far away to cause me any 
difficulty ; and, going a little farther down the road, I 
crawled across, and got into the woods on the opposite side. 
I knew that our forces held Ream's Station, which was about 
eight miles to the north, and thought it likely that the Rebels 
had a body of troops this side of them. Their lines, how- 
ever, did not probably extend far beyond the railroad ; and 
I decided to go six or eight miles in an easterly direction, 
and then to strike north towards our army, which lay between 
City Point and Petersburg. 

The sun was a little more than an hour high, and the 


morning a beautiful one. A plantation was on my left ; and 
I crossed the road, and went among the pines : but no one 
saw me, though they were grinding sorghum, as I knew by 
the shrieking and groaning of the mill. I made my way as 
directly as I could towards the east, though I had to make 
long detours to avoid crossing open fields. At last I came 
to a narrow road leading east, and followed it, occasionally 
turning off where it crossed long openings. I passed one 
complete line of intrenchments stretching as far as the eye 
could reach, and several smaller breastworks commanding 
the road. These were built opposite swampy places, where 
cavalry would be compelled to keep the road, and where 
even infantry would have difficulty in getting through the 
swamp, owing to the thickness of the trees and underbrush. 
All these roads were deserted. I crossed several little 
rivulets during the morning, the water of which was very 
refreshing ; and I think the best water I ever drank was 
in Virginia. 

I had left the railroad, and gone about two miles, when I 
saw a house ahead. A thick grove was between me and it, 
and I did not see it until closely upon it. The country was 
open for a long distance ahead ; and I saw that I should have 
to make a detour of several miles to avoid the plantations 


which were scattered along the side of the road. I deter- 
mined not to do this unless absolutely obliged to, and so 
went up near the house to reconnoitre. Presently a woman 
came out on the veranda. I did not fancy her- looks, and 
crawled back out of sight. I did not like to turn back, and 
thought it just as dangerous in one place as another. 

In front of the house, and on the opposite side of the road, 
was a large cornfield. A Virginia fence ran along the side 
of the cornfield, and up over a hill, on the top of which were 
a few scattered trees and bushes, and one round, compact 
clump of cedars, which I noticed for its beauty, not thinking 
it was to be one of the many means of saving me from Rebel 
clutches. Beyond the hill I could see the tops of other 
trees, and judged I could keep among them until I had 
passed the cleared opening. I was in doubt whether I had 
yet passed the Rebel pickets, and decided to be a little care- 
ful. I thought I might possibly meet some of our fora- 
ging parties or cavalry scouting about, but knew I was 
just as likely to meet Rebels on the same business, and 
decided to keep out of sight until nightfall ; then I would 
try to find a negro who could tell me where I was. 

The fence ran over the hill at such an angle, that, by keep- 
ing close to it, I could not be seen from the house. I went 


back the road a little distance, then over the fence, and then, 
crouching low down among the standing corn, crawled up 
the slope. I travelled in this manner until nearly to the 
top of the hill ; when, seeing a persimmon-tree a rod or two 
out in the cornfield, I went to it to gather some persimmons. 
The stalks of corn were thin and small, but, at that distance 
from the house, were a tolerable screen. I gathered some 
of the fruit, and, sitting down at the foot of a tree on the 
side opposite the house, unrolled my blanket, took out my 
bread, and proceeded to breakfast. The clump of trees I 
have spoken of was two or three rods ahead, and about a 
rod of open space was between it and the fence. A little 
farther up, on the other side of the fence, and on the crest 
of the hill, were more bushes. 

As I sat there eating my breakfast, I heard the faint beat- 
ing of drums, and thought I could distinguish the strains of a 
band far off in the distance. The sounds resembled national 
airs ; and I felt happy enough, thinking that I soon would be 
under the starry banner. The sounds probably came from 
the garrison at Ream's Station, which I had neared consid- 

I was sitting there, unsuspicious of danger, and thinking 
on the glorious prospect of being once again within the 


Union lines, and once more among comrades and friends, 
when I heard a thumping sound on the crest of the hill, and 
directly after saw emerge from the bushes a mounted'soldier. 
I lost my appetite directly, but, except drawing my head 
partially behind the tree, remained perfectly immovable. 

The man was a stout, muscular fellow, mounted on a 
large black horse, and, when he first came in sight, was 
looking towards the east, but, when nearly opposite to me, 
turned his eyes towards the west, and, as I thought, directly 
at me. I was about to get up, supposing my tramping was 
over ; and I felt terribly, to be recaptured in that silly way 
after all I had suffered : but something in the man's face 
held me still. He seemed to look over me ; and his eye gave 
out no sign of recognition, though I was not more than two 
rods distant. I noticed his every movement, — his dangling 
sabre, his carbine, his pistols, and the three canteens which 
were slung over his shoulders. I also noticed that he was 
well dressed, and wore a black plume in his hat. All this I 
saw in a second of time, and the man had passed me ! I 
could scarcely believe my senses. I concluded, that, pre- 
tending not to see me, he was only going farther down the 
fence to cut me off from the road ; and I watched him with 
every nerve strained as he trotted his horse easily down the 


hill. He sat slouchingly in the saddle, with apparently 
nothing on his mind, and soon reached the road. I did not 
watch him farther, but, snatching up my things, started up 
the hill, full of delighted wonder at my escape. 

I was hurrying along the fence, and had just passed the 
clump of bushes, when, just ahead of me, I saw what startled 
me more than the horseman. Just over the fence, among 
some low bushes, were half a dozen horses tied, and seated on 
the ground, beside a low fire, half a dozen Rebel soldiers. I 
could see only their heads, and a thin spiral of smoke curling 
up from among them. Their horses were saddled; and their 
blankets, sabres, and pistols were slung upon the animals. 

I did not stop long to look, but, with my hopes decided- 
ly below par, slunk back among the bushes. Among them 
were several rotten logs, one immense overturned stump, 
and a perfect snarl of briers and underbrush ; the whole not 
covering a quarter of an acre. I crawled into the deepest 
part of the thicket, making as little noise as a cat, and lay 
down to think over the situation. 

I could account for my escape only in this way : The sun 
was shining in the man's eyes ; it being yet early morning, 
and he riding towards the east. He probably was not parti- 
cularly on the alert ; and my clothing being of the color of 


the ground, and my blue cap partially hidden by the trees, 
his eyes did not rest on me : besides, his attention was attract- 
ed to the road. 

Soon, as I lay there in the bushes, I heard some one get- 
ting over the fence, and thought at first the soldiers had 
heard me, and were coming to find me. It was, however, 
only one of the men gathering corn for the horses ; and I was 
still safe. I could hear their conversation quite distinctly, 
though they did not talk much, — only an occasional word to 
their horses, or a casual remark among themselves. I had 
to lie perfectly still, as quantities of dry sticks lay all about, 
and the snapping of one would be likely to rouse their sus- 

The horseman who came so near without seeing me soon 
returned the way he had gone. I concluded he had been 
down to the house for whiskey, milk, or molasses ; and I no- 
ticed that he and two others went down several times during 
the day. The swamp-water was heavy in my clothes, and I 
was very uncomfortable lying so perfectly immovable on the 
damp ground ; feut I thanked God heartily for my escape, 
which seemed to me little short of miraculous. The men 
came over into the field several times during the afternoon 


to get corn for their horses ; and the day dragged slowly on, 
but at last the night came. 

When it was sufficiently dark, I crawled out of my place 
of concealment, using the utmost precaution. I went on my 
hands and knees for some distance towards the road; my 
legs being so stiff and awkward, I could not walk quietly. 
Soon I came in sight of a house not far away, down in a 
hollow. A bright fire was burning near it ; and, approach- 
ing it carefully, I saw it was under some molasses-kettles, 
and that two or three white folks were standing near it. 

Regaining the road, which passed just in front of the house 
I had reconnoitred, I was hastening quietly along the road, 
when some one made a noise like a suppressed cough, as if 
to attract my attention. It came from the bushes by the side 
of the road, and the cough sounded like a woman's ; but I 
gave it no attention. Not far on, I came to a fork in the road, 
and was debating which way to go, when I heard voices 
following. Stepping behind some small pine-trees, I waited 
for them to approach. I listened attentively to distinguish 
whether they were negroes or white people, but was puzzled 
to decide. As they passed by, I peered though the bushes 
with all my eyes, and, concluding they were negroes, stepped 
out and spoke to them. They were much astonished, and 


not a little frightened ; but after I had announced who I was, 
and asked their advice and assistance, they promised to help 

They told me that one of the roads was the Jerusalem 
Plank-road, the other a private way leading to a neighboring 
plantation ; and that it was lucky I had not gone on the 
former, as cavalry were passing continually on it. I related 
my adventure of the morning ; and they said the horsemen I 
had come upon were the pickets of a concealed cavalry 
camp, and, if they had taken me, I should have stood a poor 
chance for my life. They belonged to Berringer's brigade, 
— about a hundred and fifty rangers who encamped in out- 
of-the-way places to avoid surprise by our cavalry. 

One of the negroes went forward some distance as an 
advance-guard. He was to cough in case of any trouble ; 
but we neared the plantation without being alarmed. A 
bright fire was burning in front of one of the cabins, and a 
negro was at work near it. Our "advance-guard" spoke 
to him, and soon after the fire was put out. The negroes did 
not dare to let me into any of their cabins, it being so early 
that white folks might visit them : so I staid out in the orchard 
until about ten o'clock at night. It was very cold, and I 
found it difficult to keep quiet and warm at the same time. 


At last they let me into one of the shanties, and I got a lit- 
tle rest, which I very much needed. My entertainers prom- 
ised to pilot me through a swamp which would carry me past 
the cavalry pickets, and said, that, when I had gone be- 
yond the Jerusalem Plank-road, I should m»et no more 
Rebels. This was cheering news, and on the strength of it I 
slept soundly. Shortly before daybreak, one of the negroes 
awakened me, and I started out with him on my journey. 
As we walked on, he related several incidents of operations 
in that quarter. The only achievement of the Rebels for a 
long time was the capture of a herd of cows. The negro said 
they made a great ado over it, and bragged as if they had 
whipped the whole North. He accompanied me to the edge 
of the swamp, and then, giving me full and clear directions 
how to proceed, left me. 

I passed the swamp without much difficulty, it not being 
so bad as the other, and, having gone through it, came 
upon a broad, lonely expanse of country, which remind- 
ed me of descriptions I had read of English moors. Af- 
ter going about two miles through the tall, coarse grass and 
weeds, I came upon the Jerusalem Plank-road, and, cross- 
ing it with my usual caution, pushed on into the woods 
on the opposite side. The sun had just risen on another 


beautiful clay, and I enjoyed my tramp through the odorous 
pine-forest in the fresh morning air. My plan was to strike 
two or three miles into the wood, and then to take a north- 
erly course to the road leading to City Point, on which, the 
negro said, our pickets were stationed. When I thought I 
had left the road far enough behind, I turned towards the 
nOrth, and, the wood being but little obstructed by under- 
brush, made rapid progress ; keeping my eye and ears on the 
alert, and treading as lightly as possible. 

After a while I came to the vicinity of a plantation, as 
I knew by the cries of various domestic fowls. I tried to 
get a look at things ; but it was not imperatively necessary, 
and I soon gave it up. Changing my course a little more to 
the eastward, I shortly came upon another plantation, which, 
after a reconnoissance, I discovered was deserted. It was 
quite an extensive place, and looked like a little village. I 
rummaged about the building, which had been vacated only a 
short time, and found many articles useful to a farmer or 
housekeeper. I took a sickle, thinking it might perhaps 
be of use against dogs, and gathered and ate some ripe 

About a mile farther on, I came to another clearing, — a 
large one, with a house and outbuildings, which looked very 


imposing. I thought it very likely it was on the road I was 
trying to find, and, desiring to get information, set out for 
some cabins on the farther side of the plantation. Keeping 
in the edge of the timber, I came upon the road as I had 
expected, and, crossing, kept on towards the plantation. 

The underbrush was so thick, I could scarcely get through 
it ; and I made very slow progress, but at last arrived in tlie 
vicinity of the cabins. They were at a little distance from 
the edge of the woods ; but a tongue of trees and bushes 
extended very near to them. I kept on this tongue, which 
was wet, springy, and thickly overgrown with cane, until I 
came near the buildings. About a dozen negro children 
were playing about ; and, as I could see no one else, I con- 
cluded to accost them. I floundered through the mud, and 
came as quietly as I could to the side the children were on, 
and, showing myself to them, beckoned to the largest to come 
to me. I looked as harmless and indifferent as I could ; 
but, instead of coming towards me, they made a grand rush 
in the opposite direction, some of them screaming most 
lustily. Their screams brought a negro woman to the win- 
dow of one of the cabins. I beckoned to her with all the 
eloquence I could throw into gestures; and, hushing the 
children, she came out to where I was. She was young and 


good-looking. I liked her face very much, and trusted her 
at once, telling her I wanted to find some one who would 
direct me to our pickets. She said she would send a man 
down as soon as he came in for dinner, which would be 
soon ; and she stood talking with me a few moments before 
she started to go back to the cabin, saying as she did so, 
" You is a right nice-lookin' man, I declar." I felt highly 
flattered. She had not been gone many minutes before she 
returned, bringing some cold roast pork, hot sweet-potatoes, 
corn-bread, and a pitcher of milk. I ate heartily, and had 
some left. 

As I lay in the reeds waiting for the man, an old white 
hound came down, and stood for a time looking at me in 
an undecided way, as if she did not know whether to make 
friends or not. I tossed her a bit of bread, and she be- 
came very affectionate. I then lay down again ; and she 
lay down by me, while I fell into a short sleep. Pres- 
ently I was awakened by some one approaching. It was 
the negro. He said there was one more picket-post to pass, 
and then all I would have to fear would be some scouting- 
parties. He offered to take me, when it came night, to a 
man who would guide me to our pickets. This made me 


feel as if I was already within our lines ; and, in thinking of 
home and friends, the afternoon passed quickly away. 

Only one thing occurred to disturb me. I was lying very 
still, but, changing my position, heard something spring 
away from near me with a growl, and, looking up, saw a 
large, savage-looking dog glaring at me with what seemed 
murderous intentions. I tossed him a bit of bread ; but he 
took no notice of it, and went tearing off. I thought I was 
well rid of him ; but in ten minutes he was back again, with 
half a dozen blood-hounds at his heels. I faced them coolly ; 
but they came towards me, and began barking fiercely, and 
making short leaps at my legs and body. Grasping my sickle 
firmly, I prepared for tearing times. The negro woman, see- 
ing my predicament, ran for the man ; and he came just in 
the nick of time. By coaxing and blows, he got them away, 
and enticed them off to the swamp, hunting. In a short 
time I heard their deep baying in the distance, and felt thank- 
ful their attention was turned in another direction. The old 
white hound soon came back, and lay down again by my side; 
and the dogs also came back after a while. They looked at 
me with perplexity on their faces at sight of the old hound, 
but at last trotted off, and left me unmolested. 

When night came, I went to one of the cabins, and, sitting 


down by the fire, chatted with the negroes. As I did not 
anticipate any further use for the sickle, I gave it to one of 
them. They were much pleased with it, and, I suppose, 
with me ; for they paid me some fine compliments. It was 
well I got out of the South as soon as I did ; for, had I staid 
longer, I might have become utterly conceited. However, I 
think the negroes spoke so often of my personal appearance 
because their masters were continually telling them that the 
Yankees were ogres and horrid creatures ; and I, being a 
Yankee, was a living refutation of the slander, which they 
were delighted to see. The masters told absurd stories of 
how the Yankees treated the negroes ; but, with a very few 
exceptions, these tales were utterly discredited. In the 
course of my journey, two or three darkies asked me some 
absurd and rather dubious questions, and, on my answering 
them satisfactorily, seemed to have a great load lifted from 
their minds. 

About nine o'clock at night, the guide and I started for 
the house of the free negro, where I should find the man 
who would show me to our pickets. We had gone about a 
mile and a half, when the guide suddenly stopped, and 
pointed ahead. I could see the forms of two men ; and, dodg- 
ing quietly into the bushes, we waited for them to pass. As 


they were going by, the guide made a sound as of a bird dis- 
turbed in its nest; and, the sound being answered in du- 
plicate, he stepped out of the bushes, and spoke to them. 
One of them was the man whom we were seeking. When 
our errand was explained, he seemed reluctant to go with 
me, but, after questioning me a while, consented, apologiz- 
ing for his reluctance by saying that negroes had to be mighty 
careful in these times, and not trust every one. They were 
liable to be shot if seen out after nine o'clock, and, if 
caught befriending a Yankee, would surely be put to death. 

The man was going to the house from which we had just 
come, but turned back with me. I bade my old guide good- 
by, and set out with my new one, going through forests and 
swamps by what seemed impenetrable paths, and coming at 
length to a clearing, in the centre of which stood a double 
cabin. It was the house of my companion. We entered 
it ; and the guide urged another man who was there to ac- 
company us. He was loath to doing so at first, but finally 
consented. We went on about two miles into a swamp, the 
new-comer hanging back all the way; and then, in a faint 
tone of voice, he said he did not want to go any farther. 
His cowardice infected the other, who also backed out, and 
turned to go backward. 


Finding they would absolutely not go another step, I got 
from them the best directions I could, and started on alone. 
The night was so very dark, that the negroes had kept in the 
path with great difficulty, and only by groping with their 
sticks for the somewhat hardened ground of the pathway : so 
I thought my chance of losing myself decidedly favorable, 
and went on, feeling rather blue. They said that in a clear- 
ing close ahead was a cabin, where a free man named Henry 
lived, who, they thought, would guide me the rest of my 
journey. I could not feel angry with them for thus deserting 
me ; for the tramp was a dangerous one, and death was lit- 
erally behind almost every bush. I thanked them heartily 
for what they had done, and we parted ; they cautioning me 
not to tell the man Henry that they had guided me ; for in 
these times it was best not to trust anybody, unless abso- 
lutely necessary. 

Managing to keep in the path by using the negroes' 
method, I soon came to the clearing, and as I stood by the 
fence, narrowly inspecting the cabin, heard something scam- 
per off among the corn, and a dog spring up, and go bark- 
ing after it. It startled me at first ; but I concluded it had 
nothing to do with me, and soon all became quiet again. I 
could see gleams of light through the logs of the cabin, and 


sparks coming out into the darkness as if from a chimney ; 
and, making my way very quietly around the building, I 
knocked at the door. 

A dog barked ; and presently the door opened, and I was 
admitted. The man was a large mulatto, with a great shock 
of black hair, a very pretty mulatto wife, and several hand- 
some children. He at first was very reserved and reticent ; 
and indeed continued so, in a degree, during the whole of our 
interview. I tried to re-assure him ; but he^eemed to have 
marked out a line of conduct from which he would not be 
swerved. By asking a great many questions, I elicited from 
him the following information : That our pickets had been 
staying about two miles away, at a place called " Old Shop 
Church," but were then, he had been told by a Rebel, 
posted on another road still farther away. He did not know 
where the Rebels were ; they might be here, or might be 
there ; and there was no telling exactly where to find them, 
although at night they generally kept back towards the 
Jerusalem Road. He declined to pilot me to our pickets, 
but, after a time, gave me as full directions as he could. 

He asked who showed me the way to his cabin, and, when 
I declined to tell, said he thought it was a free man who 
lived a piece back in a double cabin. I did not tell him 


how truly he had conjectured, but let him have the benefit 
of the doubt. 

As the night was very dark, I required the most minute 
directions, and, borrowing a pencil from the man, made a 
plan of every fence on my route, and every turning of the 
path I was to follow. I studied his directions until I was 
sure I should not mistake my way, and then remarked to 
my host that I would sit by his fire a while. He said I could 
if I pleased, but I must run my own risk. I sat a mo- 
ment or two thinking the matter over, and then told the man 
I would start. He appeared relieved, and pointed out the 
way from his door. He was still reserved and reticent ; and, 
being fearful he might betray me, I hastened on as fast as 
I could in the thick darkness. 

I took careful note of the landmarks he had pointed out, 
and at length came to an old house partly in ruins, of which 
he had spoken. This convinced me I was right so far ; and, 
feeling very tired, I went into the building, and lay down a 
while in a corner under some stairs. Resting somewhat, I 
set out again, and got lost in spite of myself. Coming soon 
upon some deserted buildings, I carefully reconnoitred them, 
and, entering one, waited until morning, when I might start 
anew in the right direction. 


The night was so cloudy, I could see nothing to indicate the 
points of the compass ; hut, when the first touch of red in the 
morning sky told me where the sun was rising, I set out, 
and, proceeding as rapidly as possible in a north-east direc- 
tion, presently came upon a deserted cavalry camp. This 
the mulatto man had told me of; and I felt assured I had 
not gone far out of the way. Scraps of blue clothing were 
scattered about, which looked like old friends. 

About sunrise I arrived at " Old Shop Church," called 
by our people Sycamore Church. I knew it must be the 
place, and approached it with great care, the negro having 
said there might be scouts of either party in its vicinity ; but, 
crawling on my hands and knees through weeds and fences, 
I found it deserted. Its pews were scattered about in the ad- 
joining grove, and the whole place showed evident signs of 
having recently been a camp. The road to which our troops 
had withdrawn was to the north-east of the church : so I start- 
ed across the country in that direction, using every precaution 
to keep out of sight, and came at last upon the right road, 
and soon afterwards upon a queer fence built across it to 
stop a charge of cavalry. 

I looked every moment for our pickets, but kept on mile 
after mile without finding any, and after a time passed a house 


which answered the description of the one where the negro said 
the pickets were stationed ; but no pickets were there. How- 
ever, a broad new trail of horses' hoofs, the hoofs turning 
from the enemy, led from the building. I did not know what 
to make of it. The trail was a deep one, and evidently made 
by a large body of cavalry. It was quite fresh ; and I went 
rapidly forward, thinking it probable the Rebel scouts had 
not yet come over from the Jerusalem Road. I passed a 
number of deserted camps, most of them rather old, and, 
about nine o'clock, heard very heavy firing in the direction of 
Petersburg. Having been at Petersburg, I knew that firing 
did not always indicate a battle ; but this sounded near and 
far, and fluctuated in a way that convinced me a fierce battle 
was raging. The cannonading was at times absolutely deaf- 

Swinging along at a smart pace, I soon came in sight of a 
house some distance from the road, with trees in front, and a 
high broad fence all around it. I could not avoid it without 
a long detour, and hoped to get by unseen, as the building 
was surrounded by trees, and some distance back from the 
road. Besides, the road was dug or worn down fully two 
feet below the surface, with a Virginia fence on either side. 
I had drawn quite near the house, when suddenly I saw 


seated near the garden fence two Rebel soldiers. I could 
not go back without running great risk of being seen, nor 
out of the road without certainly attracting their attention : 
so I went upon my hands and knees, and crawled by. Luck- 
ily they did not discover me ; perhaps because my clothing 
was of the color of the ground, and I partially screened by 
the fence. I had to travel in this manner for some distance, 
but at last came to a piece of swampy wood on the right, 
and entered it without being seen. 

Following the broad trail of the horses' hoofs, I hurried 
forward, the heavy firing still going on, sometimes almost 
dying away, and again crashing out with redoubled vigor. 
I came at length to a railroad which I thought probably led 
to Suffolk or Norfolk. I was very anxious to find some ne- 
gro of whom to learn my whereabouts, and, seeing a house a 
short distance down the road, went near, and looked about 
it a bit. It was on a cart-road some ways back from the rail- 
road, and two or three barn-like buildings were in its vicin- 
ity : so I could approach quite near to it without being seen. 
In a shed near by, I found several scraps of papers ; one 

of them ordering Major , commanding outpost pickets, to 

draw in his force, and report to his brigade commander. 
The paper was dated the day before. 


Approaching the house, I saw a little negro girl drawing 
water at a well, and, seeing no signs of any one else, beck- 
oned to her to come to me. Instead of coming, she ran into 
the house ; and I was debating whether to run or not, when 
a fat white woman came to the door. Advancing to the 
house, I spoke to her in the Southern style, saying I was 
escaping from the Yanks, and wanted to know where their 
pickets were, so as to avoid them. She seemed delighted to 
hear I had got away from the Yankees, and told me to go 
right down the Norfolk Railroad, and I could get safely 
away. I thanked her warmly, but said I should like to 
know just where the Yankee pickets were, as it would be 
useful information to carry with me. She replied that she 
wished she knew ; but she didn't. All she could say was, 
that "yesterday they were all about, and to day they were 
all gone ; " and she added, " Thar's a right smart chance of 
slippin' now," — which in English means that a great many 
persons are now escaping. 

I chatted with the woman for a while longer. She said 
there were no men about of any kind ; that the Rebels 
never scouted up so far ; that the Yanks had been there all 
along ; and the Rebels would not be likely to come, now that 
the Yanks were gone. The old woman's generosity did not 


keep pace with her Southern patriotism. I could not get 
even a drink of milk from her ; and, just as I was going 
away, I let fall something which made her suspect that all 
was not right. She grew very thoughtful, and looked a 
little frightened ; but I did not tell her the truth, — she was 
forlorn enough already. I bade her good-by at last ; and she 
stood in the doorway looking after me, while I kept straight 
on by the road, which, she said, led to City Point. 

As I was going through a swampy place, a couple of splen- 
did wild turkeys flew up a little ahead of me, so near that 
I could easily have shot one of them if I had had a gun. 
They were the finest I ever saw ; and, as they flew up over 
the trees, the sun struck brilliant flashes of green from their 
bright plumage. Soon after, I came upon an extensive camp, 
which had been deserted but a few hours. There were light 
fortifications, felled trees, and abatis planked in the roads ; 
and just beyond this was a large clearing of about a mile 
long, with three or four plantations scattered through it. 

I reconnoitred the nearest house very carefully. A gang 
of negroes were at work near it, and I watched them some 
time ; but a white boy was with them, and I could get no 
chance to show myself to the negroes without being seen by 
the boy. They were going back and forth, gathering corn; 


and, as they went down the road, I sprang across it, and, 
concealing myself behind a log near the fence, tried to make 
them see me ; but they looked away, while the boy's eyes 
roved all about the premises. I could get no chance to 
speak to them, and soon they stopped work and went away, i 

Then I crawled along under the fence, near the large gate, 
and soon saw a little white boy coming down the drive-way. 
I sat down behind the gate, and, when he came out, used all 
my art to win his confidence, and draw him into conversa- 
tion. I succeeded ; and- he sat on my knee, and talked, 
while I asked his name and age with as much apparent 
interest as if I had been the census-taker. He could not 
speak plainly ; but I gathered from what he could say that 
a sick soldier was in the house, and that he wore blue clothes. 
The little fellow didn't seem to have any hatred of Yankees, 
and I thought it likely the family was of Union sentiments. 

The boy who had been working with the hands then 
came along, two negroes with him. I waited for them ; and 
they were surprised to see the little boy making friends with 
a stranger. After a few careful questions, I found my sur- 
mise was correct. The boy's father was a soldier in our 
army. The soldier in the house was a United-States safe- 
guard, to protect his property from stragglers. He was very 



sick, — so sick as to be delirious. I knew he was in good 
hands, and, sending my regards to madam, started for the 
next house, where they told me was another safeguard. My 
heart beat high at the prospect of so soon seeing a Union 
soldier and the good old blue. 

As I approached the house, all the people ran out, and 
among them appeared the dark-blue uniform of a United- 
States soldier. I walked up to the gate with a springing 
step and a glad face, which the soldier seemed to understand, 
for he shook my hands heartily. I told him who I was, and 
how glad I was to see one like him once more ; and then 
his stolid German face lighted up, and he gave me another 
hearty shake of the hand. In the course of our conversa- 
tion, he said that a big battle was being fought below Peters- 
burg, beyond the Weldon Railroad ; and, as things had 
changed since yesterday, he did not know where our pickets 
were. He cautioned me to look out for deserters from our 
army : they were mean, despicable fellows, and might trouble 


As I was still not entirely sure of reaching our pickets, 

I left my name and address with the German ; and he prom- 
ised to write to my friends that I had come thus far, and was 
well. I bade him good-by, and, after various trivial inci- 


dents, arrived at what had been Prince George Court House. 
It was only a mass of ruins, encircled with a large, deserted 
earthwork. Several roads branched from it; and, taking 
the one in a north-east direction, I hurried forward. The 
road had been recently marched over, as the many foot- 
tracks, and the books and papers thrown away on a march, 
testified. I picked up some of the books ; but they were of 
the yellow-covered order, and not worth carrying. At length 
I came to an immense clearing, with a road leading through 
it. I knew this was quite near to City Point ; for I heard 
the whistle of engines, and knew the sound must come 
from the City-Point and Petersburg Railroad. Soon I saw 
a wagon with one or two women in it, and a mounted guard 
riding alongside. They were crossing the road I was on ; 
and I hurried forward, and shouted to the soldier, asking 
him if that was the road to City Point. He nodded, and 
pointed in the direction I was going. 

About two miles farther on, I came upon a number of 
deserted camps and buildings. A plantation was ahead, evi- 
dently occupied. The house was a long, red one, surrounded 
with negro cabins ; and, as I approached near, I saw some- 
thing like horses' tails switching about in a little grove be- 
yond it. A gentle rise of ground was between me and the 


house ; and, if I went over it, I should be seen. I did not 
relish being shot by a nervous hundred-days' man, and deter- 
mined to come upon them in such a way as would avoid a 

Turning off to the left among the negro cabins, I asked a 
negro where our pickets were. He looked astonished, and 
said, "Why, right down dar," pointing to the grove of trees. 
Then I went boldly to the house, and asked a woman if she 
could not give me a lunch. I wanted to enjoy my pleasurable 
feelings as long as possible, and no doubt acted very much as 
a cat acts when playing with a mouse. She told me to go 
round to the front porch (the side where the soldiers were), 
and she would give me something. I went round, and sat 
down in the porch. 

Four United-States soldiers were at the front gate, not ten 
rods from me ; and they stared at me, but made no motion 
to come towards me. I waved my cap to them ; but they 
only stared the harder. A little girl then brought me a 
plate of pork and corn-bread, and I tried to eat; but my 
appetite was gone. Stuffing the food into my pocket, I 
handed back the plate with my thanks, and started down 
towards the pickets. They looked queerly at me, and, 
when I told them who I was, were all mouths and eyes. 


One of them drew his sabre, and said he would accompany 
me to the guard-quarters. We went into the grove, and 
there about fifty men crowded around to learn who and what 
I was. They were very jubilant when I told them ; and one 
of them shouted out that he, too, was from Massachusetts, as 
if he was proud of it. 

They furnished me a horse ; and, escorted by a major and 
a corporal, I soon rode into headquarters at City Point. 
Several amusing incidents occurred on the way ; but I have 
not space to relate them. The corporal was several times 
cautioned to " look out for me; " and we laughed, but did 
not stop to enlighten every one. 

I was taken to General Benham's headquarters, and soon 
convinced him that I was all right. The general greeted 
me very cordially, and immediately installed me as his guest. 
I had a good dinner, and was introduced to the general's 
staff. One of them — Captain Channing Clapp, of Boston — 
took particular charge of me ; giving me his bed in spite of 
me, and sleeping on the floor. He also gave me his room 
while I took a bath and changed my clothing, — he furnish- 
ing a new shirt and stockings, and a vest, blouse, and pa- 
per-collar. This latter, however, I soon grew tired of, and 
slyly took off. 


I tried to rest a little, and laid down for an hour, but could 
not sleep, — I was so filled with thoughts of home. I 
supped with General Benham, who, I found, knew some 
Dorchester people, and understood very well where I lived. 
In the evening, I went with Captain Clapp to General Pat- * 
rick's quarters, and he asked me a great many questions 
relative to the Rebels. At last I went to bed, but did not 
get to sleep until after midnight, there being such a terrible 
thunder of cannon. The officers said it was one of the heav- 
iest cannonadings they had heard. The sound at times was 
truly grand, ringing up and down the line all the way from 
the Appomattox to the Weldon Railroad. 

Our ofiicers were afraid the Rebels were trying to pierce 
our lines, and, for a time, felt some concern, as the works 
were thinly manned ; Grant having taken away all the spare 
men. They said, that, so long as the cannonading was kept 
up, we might know all was right ; and, after the firing had 
gone on some time, they concluded it was all right sure ; for 
the lines would have been broken before, if they could have 
been broken at all. 

The next morning, General Grant sent his adjutant to tell 
me he desired to see me. Captain Clapp and I had drawn 
up a request for a furlough, which had been signed by Gen- 


erals Benham and Patrick ; and, taking this with us, we 
went over to see the general. He was not at his quarters 
just then ; and, his adjutant-general approving the furlough, 
I went over to the provost-marshal's to get it stamped 
for Washington, while Captain Clapp went for my clothes, 
so I should not lose the boat, which went to Washington at 
half-past ten, a.m. 

When I went back to the general's, my things were there, 
and I was all ready to start as soon as I had seen him. A 
French general and his aide were in waiting ; and I was intro- 
duced to them by Colonel Hopkins, the adjutant-general. 
They acted as if they thought I was General Grant himself; 
bowing and scraping, and pulling off their hats to me in a 
grand fashion. They were covered with gold lace ; and the 
general had half a dozen different orders pinned to his 
breast, and probably was a person of some consequence. 
They had been announced to the general, and now went 
down to see him. 

I was introduced to General Thomas and others while 
waiting for their return. I told Colonel Hopkins I did not 
believe the general would want to see me now that he had 
such distinguished company. The colonel laughed, and said 
the general would get rid of the Frenchman very quickly. 


They soon after left, and I was introduced to the general. 
He raised his hat and shook hands with me, saying he was 
glad I had been so fortunate as to get away from the Rebels. 
We then conversed about the Rebels, I telling him all I 
knew about them. 

I talked with him' about half an hour. He said the can- 
nonading of the night before was occasioned by an attack of 
our men on a Rebel fort, which they took, capturing a 
colonel, major, captain, and about seventy-five men, and then 
returning to our lines. The Rebels were afraid of another 
attack ; and, as the night was very dark, the only way they 
could prevent it was to keep firing, whether there was any 
thing to fire at or not. Our artillery answered them ; and, 
altogether, a great deal of powder was burned, without many 
being hurt on either side. 

When I had told the general all I could think of, I said 
so ; and again congratulating me, and wishing me a pleasant 
time at home, he bade me good-by, shaking my hand cor- 
dially, and saying the boat was waiting. I ran down to the 
landing, and went aboard. 

Soon after, the boat started ; and, in course of conversation 
with an officer, he said General Grant had sent down an 
orderly to keep the boat waiting, and that we had not started 


on time. I did not say any thing, but thought it possible the 
general had detained the boat for me. If he did so, it was a 
thoughtful act, as, if it had gone without me, I should have 
been compelled to wait there another day. Captain Clapp, 
just before I took leave of him, loaned me twenty-five dol- 
lars; and I arrived at Washington with no trouble. 

Many of the passengers were very kind ; one gentleman 
pressing me to go home with him, and saying he would fur- 
nish me with as much money as I wished. I would not take 
any ; but he insisted on paying* for my meals on the boat. I 
thought, when I first arrived at Washington, I would go 
to the headquarters of transportation, and get a free passage 
home; but I found it would take some time, and, being very 
impatient to get home, bought my ticket, and, after sending 
home a telegram to my folks, took my seat in the cars for 
New York. As I passed through the gate to go to the cars, 
an officer asked me for my pass, and, when he had read it, 
smiled slyly, and asked if I was in the secret service. He 
looked puzzled ; but I could not chat with every one ; and, if 
he has not forgotten me, he is probably puzzled still. My 
queer appearance attracted attention ; and a good many peo- 
ple introduced themselves to me, and made my trip to New 
York quite pleasant. 


I arrived at Boston before sunrise in the morning. No 
cars were going to my home for over an hour : so I set out 
on foot. I stepped into a neighbor's yard, and he went to 
tell my folks I was coming. I knew my mother was weak 
and nervous, and did not wish to shock her by any great 
surprise. I went home in a few minutes ; and the folks were 
very glad to see me, judging from their actions. I was just 
as glad to see them, and we were a happy set. 


RQlbOfl 3370b 





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